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Fodder Resource Management in India- A Critical Analysis

Mutturaj Yadav Earagariyanna Jagadeeswary Venkayala Satyanarayan Kammardi Mohankumar Sriramaiah
Vol 7(7), 14-22

India has largest livestock population in the world and one of its notable characteristics is almost entire feed requirement is met from crop residues. The present study was under taken to assess the production and requirement of fodder in India using secondary data from NATP and 19th livestock census. The results revealed that the fodder requirement in India is 883.95 Mt of green fodder and 583.66 Mt of dry fodder whereas the estimated fodder production is 664.73 Mt of green fodder and 355.93 Mt of dry fodder. Hence to minimize the existing gap of 218.22 Mt of green fodder and 227.73 Mt of dry fodder, adequate policy and research level initiatives have to be taken to strengthen the existing fodder resources. The findings of the study will help the policymakers of the country in designing trade strategy to maximize benefits from livestock production.

Keywords : Production Requirement Green Fodder Dry Fodder Policymakers


As per 19th livestock census, India has 512.05 million livestock population of which 190.90 million of cattle, 108.70 million buffaloes, 135.173 million goats and 65.1 million sheep population. One of the notable characteristics livestock feeding system in India is that almost, two third of feed requirement is met from crop residues. Total available cultivated land is only 152.793 M Ha and where as net sown area is around 141.219 M Ha as of 2012-13 (Agricultural Statatistics, 2015). At the national level, out of 574.3 million tons of dry matter available, 62.5 per cent is accounted by crop residues (Raju, 2011). Land allocation to cultivation of green fodder crops is limited and has hardly ever exceeded 5 per cent of the gross cropped area (GoI, 2009). Hence, the supply of feed has always remained short of normative requirement (GoI, 1976; Singh and Mujumdar, 1992; Ramachandra et al., 2007). Birthal et al. (2005) have found feed scarcity as the main limiting factor in the task of improving livestock productivity. In production aspect it has been found that the demand for milk by 2020 would be 135-156 Mt (Delgado et al., 2001; Parthasarathy et al., 2008) whereas the actual milk yield of bovines is reported to be 26-51 per cent below the attainable yield under field conditions (Birthal et al., 2005), which otherwise could have been realized with better feeding, breeding and disease management.

Fodder Demand and Supply Scenario in India

Fodder pedestal, cheaper forage and feed techniques are requisite to increase livestock produce as the fodder only comprises 70 per cent of the milk creation rate. Presently, there is stress on accessibility of sum of forage and feed, as cultivated land obtainable for fodder cultivation has been declining. India currently is facing a mesh shortfall of around 64 per cent feeds, 61.1 per cent green fodder and 21.9 per cent dry crop residues (Dhananjoy Datta, 2013). Most of the studies estimated the gap between feed availability and requirement based on nutritional requirement of livestock (GoI, 1974; Hazra and Rekib, 1991; Singh and Mujumdar, 1992; Pandey, 1995; Singh et al., 1997; Ramachandra et al., 2007) but yet were not focused on fodder availability from different sources. As per the computed data from NATP and 19th livestock census it revealed that India is facing fodder scarcity and was observed that the available fodder quality is not good enough and does not meet the feeding standards.

Calculating Fodder Requirement Using 2012 Livestock Census and NATP Database

As per the National Agricultural Technology Project (NATP), which is carried out jointly by the National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research (NCAP) and the Society for Economic and Social Research (SESR), Delhi, the design of the feed consumption survey was developed. Based on the survey, per day feed requirement of different species of livestock in terms of green fodder, dry fodder and concentrates was calculated and depicted in Table 1. Though estimated feed requirement rates (Table 1) appeared to be small, total quantity of each type of feed when estimated for country’s entire livestock population turned out to be enormous. Based on 19th Livestock Census and feed requirement rate (Table 1) for different species, a total feed requirement in terms of 883.95 Mt of green fodder, 582.66 Mt of dry fodder and 57.61 Mt of concentrates was arrived. The feed requirement in terms of dry matter, green fodder, dry fodder and concentrates for different livestock species is given in Table 2.

Table 1: Consumption value of different species of livestock (Kg/animal/day)

Species Green Fodder Dry Fodder Concentrates
Cattle In-milk 4.75 5.50 0.64
Dry 3.40 4.02 0.4
Adult 4.06 6.03 0.33
Young 2.18 2.13 0.18
Buffalo In-milk 5.69 6.34 1.05
Dry 5.44 4.95 0.52
Adult 4.04 7.47 0.36
Young 2.29 2.22 0.19
Goat 1.04 0.20 0.06
Sheep 1.01 0.20 0.04
Others 2.35 6.72 0.49

Source: NATP project database

The calculated feed requirement (Table 2) revealed that percentage of feed requirement is high in bovines as it requires half (52.73%) of the green fodder and 65 per cent of the dry fodder. Of the total feed required by the cattle milch cows (in-milk and dry) accounted for around 20.36 per cent of the green fodder and 15 per cent of the dry fodder.

Table 2: Requirement of dry matter, green fodder, dry fodder and concentrates for different livestock species (Mt/Year)

Livestock DM Mt / year GF Mt/year DF Mt/year Concentrate
Exotic Cattle In Milk 36.59-4.69% 30.9-3.49% 28.71-4.92% 3.34
Others 68.93-8.83% 69.23-7.83% 52.79-9.06% 4.49
Indigenous Cattle In Milk 75.86 -9.72% 64.06 -7.24% 59.52-10.21% 6.92
Others 306.1-39.23% 302.11-34.17% 238.91- 41% 17.19
Buffalo In Milk 118.4-15.17% 118.8 -13.43% 84.63 -14.52% 14.01
Others 146.65-18.79% 185.67-21% 103.73-17.8% 7.75
Sheep 14.48-1.85% 39.18-4.43% 4.51-0.77% 0.95
Goat 13.09-1.67% 74-8.37% 9.86-1.69% 2.96
Total 780.1 883.95 582.66 57.61

Source: Computed from 19th Livestock census and NATP database

Green Fodder Production in India

Source of green fodder in India is from cultivation of agricultural land, greens produced in forest and from fallow lands. For calculating the availability of greens, five per cent of the gross cropped area is assumed to be used for fodder cultivation and the average yield of 55 t / ha has been considered for the study (Raju, 2011). Hence 194.40 M Ha of total grossed cropped area (Agri. Stat., 2015), 5 per cent will account to 9.72 M Ha, and hence 534.6 Mt of green fodder is available. The availability of greens from forest land has been assessed based on the average production potential of 3 t/ ha (Raju, 2011). The green fodder from forest lands is 238.26 Mt obtained from 79.42 million hectare of forest and tree cover (India State of Forest Report (ISFR), 2015) of which 119.13 Mt (50 %) is only available for livestock. The green fodder availability from fallow land is 1 t / ha (Raju, 2011). Fallow land in India is around 11 M Ha, and fodder from fallow will be 11 Mt. Hence, the total green fodder availability from all three sources (cultivation, forest and fallow land) is around 664.73 Mt.

Crop Residues Contribution to Dry Fodder in India

Crop residues are bulky and contain more than 18 per cent fiber. Crop residues comprise straws and stovers obtained after harvesting the crops. Crop residues are the major feed resource for feeding of livestock across all states. Sahai et al. (2011) have estimated 253 Mt of crop residue generation in the year 2010; the scenario is not expected to drastically change in near future. The availability of dry matter through crop residues was 176.69 million tons in 1980-81 has increased to 355.93 million tons in 2011-12 registering an increase of 101 per cent over a period of 30 years. In spite of the fact that the Net Sown Area has been constant (142 million hectares), the availability of crop residues has increased over the years. This could probably be attributed to the cultivation of crops of HYV’s, irrigation and other package of practices. The starting of green revolution heralded the introduction of HYV’s of wheat and paddy throughout the country in general and in the states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in particular resulting in higher grain production and consequently higher availability of straws from these crops. Availability of dry matter through crop residues for the period 1980-81 to 2011-12 is presented in Table 3.

Table 3: Dry matter through crop residues for the period 1980-81 to 2011-12 (million tonnes)

Crop Residues


1980-81 1985-86 1990-91 1995-96 1999-00 2005-06 2011-12
Fine Straw 95.43 117.03 136.54 145.95 172.70 205.56 252.16
Coarse Straw 62.46 56.38 71.25 62.57 67.28 62.63 44.26
Leguminous Straw 18.80 29.66 35.33 33.35 29.99 50.15 59.51
Total 176.69 203.07 243.12 241.87 269.97 318.34 355.93

Source: NIANP, 2013

Analyzing the Gap between Requirement and Production

Based on feed production and feed requirement calculated as above, India falls short by 219.2 Mt of green fodder and 226.73 Mt of dry fodder. Apart from production shortage of dry fodder, the other reason that reduces the fodder availability to livestock is burning of crop residues (Sidhu et al., 1998, Gadde et al., 2009, Mehta, 2004; Pathak et al., 2006; Pathak et al., 2010). The crop residue burning has environmental impact as it causes atmospheric pollution (Raison, 1979; Ponnamperuma, 1984; Lefroy, 1994). According to IPCC, 25 per cent of the crop residues are burnt on farm. In the states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh 80 per cent of rice straw was burnt in situ followed by Karnataka (50%) and Uttar Pradesh (25%), which can be attributed to the mechanized harvesting with combine harvesters (Gupta et al., 2003).

Policies Regarding Strengthening Fodder Resource in India

1. Karnataka Livestock Development Policy -2010

Term of coverage of policy is 10 Years. Its main objectives are, qualitative and quantitative improvement in fodder, popularizing and enrichment of crop residues, popularizing silvipasture development through incentives, fodder densification units /fodder banks to be established through PPP models, local bodies/gram panchayats to be supported for establishing fodder tree nurseries and for silvi-pasture development (Government of Karnataka, 2010).

2. National Fodder Policy

India has proposed a national fodder policy to address the problem of fodder shortages and to boost domestic production. Main agenda of project is to address fodder shortage and framing laws to control crop burning as this would help not only to increase fodder supply but protect environment as well (Anon., 2017).

3. Establishment of Silvi-Pasture System in the Bio-Mass Production

The scheme extends financial and technical assistance for the development of Silvipasture on private lands (KisanVana). It has been possible to increase land productivity from 0.5-1.5 tonnes/ha/year to > 10 tonnes/ha/year (10-year rotation) by developing silvipasture (ICAR, 2010).

4. Development of National Grazing cum-Fodder and Pasture Management Policy- 2013

Main objective is to ensure optimum productivity of fodder on sustainable basis and to guide focused and effective implementation of pasture management action plans (NITI Aayog, 2011).

5. Hydroponics as Green Fodder

It is a well-accepted fact that feeding dairy animals is incomplete without including green fodder in their diet. Green fodders are staple feed for dairy animals. Dairy animals producing up to 12-15 liters milk per day can be maintained by feeding green fodders. Inclusion of green fodders in ration of dairy animals decreases amount of concentrate feeding and thus increases profit (Anon., 2017).

Administrative and Research Strategies for Strengthening Existing Fodder Resources in India

The information on fodder resource is important from the perspective of animal nutrition, and also for planning the production/supply of different feed ingredients. So Government has to take necessary steps in Management, conservation and development of fodder and pastures/ grasslands in forests.

Policy Level

The absence of pasture management and grazing policy at national/ state level have rendered the pasture lands, including village common lands and uncultivable waste lands as unproductive. Hence policies to govern the fallow and uncultivable waste land should be implemented.

Institutional Level

There is no designated agency to steer the management of grazing lands and fodder resources in the country. The Forest Departments, in their endeavor to bring 33 per cent land area under forest cover, have been busy in closing the grazing lands for raising plantations – mainly of commercial tree species like eucalyptus, etc (Mukund et al., 2015). Better institutional framework and linkage between institutes with same moto of fodder sustainability should be done.

Resource Level

There is acute deficit of fodder in the country with livestock,
especially for those dependent upon open grazing, getting less than 1/5th of the healthy fodder requirement per day. As per estimates, the country’s pastures have reduced from about 70 million ha in 1947 to just about 38 million ha in 1997 (NITI Aayog, 2011). Conservation of natural fodder resources like pasture lands should be encouraged.

Research Level

There are a number of research studies pertaining to the productivity and carrying capacity of the grazing lands. However, most of these studies are fragmented and are difficult to apply and not concentrating on drought situations in India. Hence researcher should concentrate on developing drought resistant fodder crops and grasses.

Mapping of Ecologically Sensitive Pastures and Development of Rehabilitation

The ecologically sensitive pastures like the alpine/ subalpine, shola, Eastern Ghats, arid zones are facing the highest threat due to unsustainable biotic interference. There is lack of records on decrease in these sensitive zones and reason for decrease of same. Hence encouraging mapping technology gives a record on future fodder shortage that can be mitigated by adequate mitigation measures.

Extension Point of View to Strengthen Fodder Resource

  • Sustainable intensification of livestock production system might become a key climate mitigation technology. Intensive cultivation of leguminous fodder like lucern can provide quality green at low cost and high yield in small area. Though the average green fodder yield of lucerne varied from 80-120 t/ha/year, but intensive cultivation has recorded 150-200 tonnes/ha/year or 80-120 kg/gunta/cut at line spacing of 30 cm apart between rows on ridges (Kantha Raju M.K., 2015). Hence sensitizing farmers on intensive cultivation should be carried out.
  • Intensive cultivation of fodder trees is also a key technology to get greens throughout the year and also increase productivity of livestock. Action research on intensive cultivation of Sesbania grandiflora with line spacing of 3 ft x 3 ft (12,000 – 12,500 saplings/hectare), produced 7.8 kg/tree/year or 93.6 MT per year per hectare. Further this fodder was fed to lactating crossbred cows under study @ 5 kg fresh forage/day/cow, and an overall increase of 11.97 per cent was observed (Pramila, 2014). Hence up scaling this technology to a wider geographical area is the need of the hour.
  • Enrichment can increase the nutritive value of the crop residues that can contribute to increased productivity of animals. Enrichment of straws with molasses (10%), urea (1%), minerals(1%), common salt(1%) and feeding them @5kg per animal can support body maintenance of adult animals (NDDB, 2006). Hence providing knowledge and conducting on farm demonstration on enrichment can increase the utilization of crop residues.


It is time that a comprehensive National Fodder and Pasture Management Policy is put in place and reports/ recommendations of the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change Committee on Fodder and Grasses (1988) and NITI Aayog Task Force on Grasslands and Deserts (2006) be revisited, updated and developed in the form of a concrete scheme under the NITI Aayog towards rehabilitation and enhancement of pastures and fodder resources in the country. Further in many parts of the country while feeding straws/stover, chaffing practice is not adopted thus leading to wastage as well as more energy expenditure in chewing the unchaffed straw/stover. Mechanism for chaffed feeding should go a long way in reducing the wastage and energy conservation and use for other physiological functions of animals. Enhanced investments, agriculture and allied sectors could achieve a higher annual growth rate. As of now 3.64 per cent annual growth rate was observed during the course of XI plan due to the implementation of 5768 projects in the 11th plan, against a growth rate of 2.46 per cent per annum in the X plan period. Though government has implemented some of fodder conservation and management schemes, yet fodder scarcity is the major concern of the hour. Hence more intensive activities need to be planned by GOI and under PPP models – to accelerate growth of livestock population by providing scientific nutrient inputs.


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