19. Pro-poor Community Forage Production Programme in the Nepal Australia Community Resource Management and Livelihoods Project, Nepal.
Rameshwar Singh Pande
(Published in : Proceedings of the Workshop on Fodder Oats , Fodder Technology Packages and Small Farm Income generation, Chapter XXIX, Kathmandu, Nepal, 8-11 March 2005 . TCP/NEP/2901-Capacity building for fodder oat technologies in Nepaland, sixth Meeting of the Temperate Asia Pasture and Fodder Network. www.fao.org/ag/agp/agpc/doc/Proceedings/nepal2005/chapter29)
The Community Forestry (CF) programme has been ongoing since 1978 and has proved useful and successful in giving communities access to forest resources and improving forest management.It has however, neglected non-timber forest resources, especially forage and has also had limited success in making resources available to the poorest and disadvantage groups. To increase equity in access to community forest the Nepal -Australia Community Resource Management and Livelihoods Project has initiated a Community Forage Programme focusing on landless poor, women and disadvantaged groups on a pilot basis, aiming to enhance fodder supply as well as stopping further degradation of forest resources. This paper describes the methodology of organising such work, socially and technically and reports on preliminary results of fodder production technques.
Key words: Pro-poor, Dalit, Community forest, Forest user group, forage programme, Forage plants.
Community Forestry (CF) was devised in 1978 to improve the condition of forest and meet household needs of forest products. Poor households especially rural ones, depend on community resources to meet their daily needs in fodder, bedding, firewood and other).However, small land- holders or households with few on-farm activities have not been benefited as envisaged by the Community Forage programme (Richards et al 2003; Malla et al, 2003; Bhatta & Dhakal 2004; Singh 2004; Chhetri, 2004). Forest products are inequitably distributed among the poor within the community Forest User Groups (FUG) (Timsina 2002; Neupane 2003; Kandel & Subedi 2004; Kanel, Statz and Sharma 2004; Nurse et al 2004; Shrestha and Khadka, 2004). Even so, the significance of Community Forestry has been well proved in empowering users to manage forest resources for their own benefit (Kanel, 2004). Over time, the priority of Community Forestry has shifted from forest protection and management to poverty alleviation & livelihoods improvement (NACRMLP, 2003; LFP, 2003; Allison et al, 2004; Kanel and Niraula, 2004).
Since the inception of Community Forestry, over 1010,740 ha of forest have been handed over to 13,300 FUGs, comprising over 1422,301 households (CFD, 2004). Most Community Forests are close to the human settlement and contribute significantly products: timber and firewood, their value (in FUG fund) is high, but the need for fodder by all strata of people is more important. In Community Forest management, priority has been given to timber and firewood rather then other lower priced but more important products such as fodder which contribute to livelihoods of poor households. Studies and suggestions for fodder improvement in Community Forestry have been scant. To avoid the further degradation and to increase equity and equality among FUG members incorporation of forage program in Community Forestry was urgently needed. To this end, the Nepal-Australia Community Resource Management and Livelihoods Project (NACRMLP) has initiated Community Forage Program (CFP) focusing on landless poor, women and disadvantage groups on a pilot basis, aiming to enhance fodder supply as well as to stopping further degradation of forests resources.
Over 90 percent of the total poor of the country live in rural areas. Due to lack of on-farm economical opportunities they have to rely on subsistence on community forest and marginal lands. Livestock is a vital source of livelihood for such communities who rear small livestock (goats, pigs, poultry) and cattle and buffaloes (in part-ownership); .they rely on community resources for fodder. The Project districts Kabhre & Sindhu are major milk producers, supplying about 60 percent of the raw milk in national milk market. Milk production is based on feeding concentrates so over 60 percent of income is spent to buy feed. Forage based livestock farming is cheapest as well as environmentally sound.
The Project districts contain 200,344 ha of natural forests (Kabhre 73,801 ha and Sindhu 126,543 ha) of which 45,278 ha have already been handed over to 811 FUGs, comprising 79,200 households (CFD, 2004); 85- 87 percent of households keep livestock (NACRMLP, 2004). Fodder is becoming scarce day by day. Most women members spent about 3 hours to collect a load of grasses and tree leaves. A preliminary study of the feed balance of NACRMLP districts showed that the deficit is up to 60 percent compared to production requirements (NACRMLP, 2003). At national level, MPFS, 1988 estimates that the over all deficit of fodder would be 14.5 percent during 2000-2001 and rise to 21.9 percent by 2010/2011 (demand 4896.7 and supply 3796.7 MT TDN; MPFS, 1988). Ppro-poor households are gradually abandoning livestock farming and shifting in other occupation or seasonal migration.
The feed deficit hinders environment conservation; the mid-hills are ecologically sensitive ; soil are poor, infertile and of poor water holding capacity. Over the decades, these degraded community lands have lost their ability to regenerate grass and useful vegetation. Palatable plants have vanished and noxious, weedy ones dominate open patches e.g. Eupatorium spp. They are devoid of ground vegetation and pose a threat to the livelihoods by way of shortage of fodder, fuel, potable water, depletion of ground water, loss of production due to soil erosion and landslide. Encroachment of the community land by some elite is common, so. the area is shrinking.
Community Forestry is a major source for generating FUG funds, for development of social, physical and human resources in the community. Most revinue is from the sale of timber and firewood. Pines are widely used for afforestation, this transformed denuded land into greenery but. the growth of herbaceous species has been drastically reduced, and has affected the availability of forest fodder. Most FUGs use of funds on small rural enterprises, mainly in livestock rearing without giving due considerations on fodder development.
The project has facilitated 27 FUGs in preparing “Livelihoods Improvement Plan (LIP)” for the social and, economical development of users. To empower the women especially from disadvantage community; the project is facilitating Women Empowerment Program (WEP). The LIP and WEP groups are keen to begin community forage programmes; the line agencies such as District Livestock Services Office, District Forest Office, District Soil Conservation Office are implementing forage programmes with limited resources and small coverage. The Livestok and Forest Department jointly implement a Leasehold Forestry and Forage Development Programme in 34 districts The concept is very useful but the result has not been as envisaged (Singh 2004). The line agencies have technical expertise but no specific programme for pro-poor groups, their experience and manpower could be used for pro-poor community forage programmes.
The aim of the HMG/Nepal, Tenth Plan (2002-2007) is poverty reduction and intensive management of forest resources. Alternative ways should be explored to use community resources for livelihoods improvement of the FUGs. Oopen and degraded community forests, which are still barren and under utilized provide opportunities for forage cultivation. There is ample scope for the development of understory forage in plantations using shade tolerant perennials In addition to the community forage, assistance to the well- off households with on-farm forage production through incorporation of forage in farming systems would enhance their forage supply. Over-sowing of forage mixture on landslide and roadside could improve the forage supply to pro-poor households as well as contribute in their stabilization.
• Generate awareness to develop and manage community resources, diversify the productivity, mitigate further environmental degradation and facilitate the pro-poor FUG members in benefit sharing of community resources.
• Facilitate formation of Forage Sub-group comprising poor, Dalit (persons outside the class system of Hinduism who was formerly termed as Untouchable) and women members for establishment of a Community Forage Block with mixed perennial forage species for better fodder and seeds & planting materials production and opportunities for income generation.
• To mitigate the pressure on forest resources by developing alternative means of forage production from community forests.
• Easy access on enhanced forage supply from community resources to pro-poor and landless farmers to reduce over exploitation of forest resources,
• Diversification of forest products and income especially from degraded community forests;
• Create awareness and enhance skills of FUG members on improved forage cultivation;
• Promotion of on-farm forage production (without affecting the crop farming), establishment of forage resource centres for planting materials and use of degraded lands (landslide/roadside),
• Opportunities for income generation from the sale of green forage/ seeds/ planting materials.
Schematic steps for the facilitation of pro-poor CFP is presented in Figure –1
Figure –1: Process of Pro-poor Community Forage Program Community Forage Program
Mobilization of FUG:
Interaction/orientation of the concept, approaches and modalities on community forage programme with LIP/ FUG, WEP groups and other groups/individuals.
• Identification of the potential sites; selection/identification of potential users/households focusing on poor, DAG and women within the FUGs.
• Discussion on interests, role and responsibilities of selected households as community forage users,
• Formation of forage sub-group(s) within the respective FUGs comprising poor and DAG and WEP members (See boxes 1 & 2),
• Facilitation to formulate policies, guidelines, action plan for community forage development field /implementation.
• Orientation/hands on training on improved forage cultivation and demonstration on forage program to the LIP/WEP facilitator’s.
• Support of forage seeds and planting materials through distribution of mini kits to the FUG/LIP facilitators.
• Establishment of forage block (using minimal tillage operation); manual works and local planting materials from the respective FUG- sub groups and improved seeds and planting materials from project support.
• Facilitation on protection, management, harvesting, and use of forage materials, whenever needed.
• Monitoring and follow- up.
Salient feature of Community Forage programme:
Selection of CF for forage development:
• Open/degraded grazing areas within the CF comprising at least 2,500 sq m of land,
• Willing to form Forage Sub-group comprising Dalit, women and poorest households,
• Willing to provide required labor and other facilities for its management,
• Willing to raise the nominal cost of the seeds and planting materials, which could be used for the welfare activities of the poorest households in the communities,
• And others as decided by respective FUGs.
Types of mini kits packets: A standard forage mini kit comprising 500 gm seed mixture which contain 13 different forages including grasses and legumes. The forage mixtures are designed to provide a range of legumes, grasses, shrubs, herbs and climbers as well as to maximize the land use while increasing the biomass per unit of area. The proportion of the forages was on the basis of availability of seeds; the number of mini kit packets supplied to the FUG/FSGs is based on the size of the forage block.
Tillage: Minimum tillage was used for sowing seeds at of 4 kg/ha. Seed were sown in summer (June/July). No fencing were erected.
Experiences and outcomes
Number of FUGs involved and performance of the forage species in CFP
Up to December 2004, 42 FUGs (22 in Kabhre and 20 in Sindhu) have formed "Forage Sub-groups" and established forage block s. A total of 324 kg (144 kg in Kabhre and 210 kg in Sindhu) has been used on about 80- 100 ha.Members involved in CFP are over 535 (including 417 women). The forage establishment, flowering performance and biomass yield was observed. Seven FUGs were selected for data collection, five FUGs (Sungure (Box 2), Siddhiganesh, Ansetar and Jalpa) and two FUGs in Kabhre (Hokse and Saparupa) (Table 1). The performance of the forage in Sindhu FUGs is good conditions to Kabhre FUGs mainly due to late sowing and poor soil conditions.
Box –1 Case study: Community Forage Block of Pro-poor disadvantage groups
A Pioneer FUG in Community Forage Programme: Bhedigoth, Thulosirubari VDC, Sindhu
The Bhedigoth FUG is in Thulosirubari VDC Ward No. 1 & 6, Sindhu Palchok. The FUG comprises 124 households with 56 ha. CF most`of which is planted with Pines and about 20 percent is still open degraded land, used for grazing. The Operational Plan (OP) was approved in July 1998 . The altitude ranges from 1200 to 1350 m. All most all members rear few livestock. The major sources of fodder are grasses and tree leaves collected from CF, agricultural by-products and grazing. Most women members collect fodder and bedding materials.
The community Forage programme was conceptualized and tested in June/July 2003 in a Dalit tole Bhedigoth FUG, Thulosirubari, Sindhu Palchok. After a rigorous interaction and steps to implement “Community Forage Programme”, the FUG formed a “ Forage Sub-groups” comprising 25 households of Dalit families. The role and responsibilities of the sub-group was discussed in general assembly and FUGC agreed to allocate an open block for forage development. A field level training required forage seeds (Stylo, joint vetch, Ipil-ipil, Gamba grass, Rhodes, Glycine, Joint vetch, Maku lotus and Wynn cassia and some slips of Mott napier, forage peanut and other local species of fodder trees) were provided and forage block established in August 2003. The chairperson Mr Chandra Dulal was also provided with an additional training on forage seed production at Palpa in January 2004 to enhance the skills on forage and forage seed production and management. Last year, the FSG members have expanded the area under forage as well as in terrace risers on individual’s backyards. Mr Dulal proudly says “the FSG have sold the grasses and generated a fund equals to Rs 3300 (1US$=71 NRs) last year, and that amount has been invested in other economical activities such as off- season vegetable production, goat and pig farming to the poorest members of the group in soft loan. This year, they can earn about Rs 10,000 from the sale of seeds and grasses and the amount will increase in time”. He also added that “Since the establishment of Community Forage block, open grazing of stray animals has been completely stopped, much time have been saved in collection of fodder, the group members are empowered and encouraged to initiate other productive programs”. The Community forage block is serving as a demonstration and learning sites for neighboring FUGs.
Preliminary results reveals that the average number of forage plants per square meter was 1058 (range 518 to 1513). The forage which established best were Melinis minutiflora (molasses grass) and Stylosanthes guianensis (stylo) which were 73 and 25 percent respectively other forage comprises only 2 percent of the population.
Table –1 Description of community forage blocks
SN Name of FUG Total Area (ha) Total members (Female ♀) Yield GM ton/ha
1 Ansetar FUG, Pandhera, Sangachok, SP 0.25 18 ♀ 13
2 Ansetar FUG, Khadkako ahal, Sangachok –3, SP 0.35 40 ♀ 29
3 Ansetar FUG, Devisthan, Jangachok, SP 0.75 40 ♀ 73
4 Sungure FUG, Bistako ahal chaur, Pipaldanda 1 36 ♀ 68
5 Jalpa FUG, school comp, Sanosirubari, Sp 0.25 103 (80 ♀) 73
6 Saparupa, Methinkot, Kp 0.25 24 ♀ 13
7 Panduladevi, Hokse, Kp 0.5 63 (50 ♀ ) 19
Mean yield of forage biomass 324 (264 ♀) 41
Almost all established forages (except Ipil-ipil) were flowering and bearing seeds. Profuse flowering and seeding forage were Joint vetch (Glen & Vilomix), Molasses, Stylo (Plapa, Temperano and Nina), Wynn cassia and Signal.
Box –2 Case Study: Community Forage of WEP members
Community Forage Programme, Sungure FUG, WEP Groups
The Sungure FUG is in Pipaldanda VDC Ward number 3 Sindhu Palchok; a neighboring VDC of Chautara- the district head quarter. There are 130 households and the total community forest area is 125 ha. The major species are Sal, Chilaune, Mahuwa and others. The OP was approved in 13 May 1994. The altitude is about 1200 m. The chairperson is Mr Khadag Bahadur Rayamajhi. Mr. Rayamajhi is also a LIP facilitator. The WEP is also running, Ms Gyani Basnet is a facilitator of WEP. There are 36 WEP members.
The FUG has allocated a block of land comprising 20 ropani to the WEP members for community forage development. Project provided hands-on training to the WEP members on improved forage cultivation in situ and required quantity of seeds during the first week of June 2004. Now, the forage is performing very well. The block is on the way to Chautara- Nawalpur road, “every on who passes from the road get impressed and inspired” says Mr Khadag Rayamajhi, Chairperson of Sungure FUG. He further added that “I am very much impressed from the forage program, the barren filed yielding nothings, now turned into bumper forage block, other FUG members are also keen to plant forage in all open forest areas in coming season; we will initiate improved dairy and goat farming program to facilitate the pro-poor FUG members in second stage”.
The yield of the improved forage was quite satisfactory; the average yield of fodder in Sindhu is 2.3 Mt DM/ha (Pande, 1997; Pariyar 2004), compared to the normal yield, the yield of green biomass from the CFP was found 41 ton/ha in the preliminary study carried out in December 2004 (which is about 8-10 t DM/ha) Similarly, due to the proportionate legume content the quality of fodder from CFP could also be high compared to native grasses, which are mainly of low nutritive value (Pande 1997). The average production in Kabhre (16 tons green matter/ha) was very low compared to SindhuPalchok (51 tons green matter/ha).
On-farm, landslide/roadside and school forage production.
In addition to the community forages were established on landslides and roadsides for fodder and to control landslides. To support the land-rich FUG members on-farm forage was facilitated. About 5,400 members on-farm grew improved forage. The main purpose of the FRC was to multiply the vegetative materials for distribution to other members at a nominal charge,distribution of planting materials has begun and is earning income. A separate programme to create awareness on improved forage was started under which over 42000 packets of forage seeds were distributed to students of 161 schools, which created awareness among the students and parents.
THE GUIDING PRINCIPLES BEHIND THE SUCCESS OF Community forage
At the initial stage, start in a demonstration- test site. Take account of all issues raised by the community and refine for further trial. Avoid sites, which are under dispute and encroachment. Preferably choose the site, which is close to the sub-group members hamlet. Take the consensus of the entire community in addition to the respective FUGC; if possible focus on poor and disadvantage groups and/or WEP group. Form the Forage Sub-Group within the FUG from the very beginning and encourage the sub-group to plan, implement and take decisions with the support of main FUGC. Organize training at field level, ensure the participation of the actual beneficiaries (women in most cases)Provide material support such as forage seeds and planting materials which are not available locally. Avoid direct financial support to purchases. Ensure compulsory manual involvement by each households of the sub-group in establishing the forage block (land preparation, live fencing, sowing, management and others), encourage voluntary services and cost sharing, wherever possible. Always use a mixture of planting materials incorporate leguminous browse and establish a separate block for seed production.
Identify opportunities for generating employment and income as well as forage production. Link the community based forage and livestock improvement with other family based other income generation such as vegetable and small-animal production to ensure sustainability in the long run. Coordinate and link the programme with the other government/non-government organization for additional technical/material support/facilitation. Develop the capability of the Forage Sub-Group to take part in village community development activities.
LESSON LEARNED AND RECOMMENDATIONS:
The formation of sub-groups and allocation of some community forest lands for forage to the poor and DAG created some confusion initially in the community ownership (of that particular block) may transfer to that group e.g. Bhedigoth FUG.
In some cases it was observed that the sub-group of poor and DAGs lack confidence and trust in FUGC (usually dominated by elites), and refused to form a solo group of DAG households only e.g. Sungure FUG.
Establishment of forage block isusually simple, easy and needs less labor (mostly one day input of the members for tillage and sowing of seeds). However, poorer members who depend on daily wages for subsistence find it difficult to spare time for forage establishment e.g. in Sungure FUG, three women members could not provide their manual labor during the seed sowing day, but substituted later.
The contribution of established forage block to overall fodder supply or income is relatively small to individual members, which is less attractive to the poor. So the forage programme should be linked to other income generation such as off season vegetable and bee keeping.
Forage takes time to become productive, most of the perennials only give a significant yield in the second years ater establishment. So, fast growing forages like Mott napier, forage peanut etc should be incorporated to show quick results.
The programme has created significant awareness among FUGs members towards the forage cultivation. Communal forestlands, which were encroached on for personal use have been reoccupied by the forage sub-group to establish forage blocks, and this has raised some doubt and criticism especially from the elites.
The Community Forage Programme has created lots of awareness and enthusiasm among the FUG members in poor communities. Preliminary observations indicate that the Community Fodder Programme can solve many issues of unequal resource sharing among the Group members and could mitigate the over exploitation of forest resources. However, due to the lack of good governance and equity in Community Forest management, continued facilitation from NACRMLP is important for the institutionalization, as well as sustainable development, of Community Forage Programme which is a potential tool to meet the objectives of the Tenth Plan (2002-2007) to reduce poverty at national level as well as the Millennium Development Goals of poverty reduction at global level.
The support provided by Mr. Satrughan Lal Pradhan and Mr Alan Robertson and all field staff especially Mr Ram Saran BK, Tara Pariyar, Khadag/Kiran Kharel and all others to implement this programme are highly appreciated. The support of DFO, DSCO and DLSO staff for their contribution are also highly acknowledged.
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