OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES OF FORAGE CULTIVATION IN ASSAM – A REVIEW

OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES OF FORAGE CULTIVATION IN ASSAM – A REVIEW
SARAT SEKHAR BORA,*, KARUNA KANTA SHARMA, KARISHMA BORAH AND RANJIT KUMAR SAUD
KVK, Udalguri, AICRP on Forage crops & Utilization, Department of Horticulture,
Directorate of Extension Education
Assam Agricultural University, Jorhat-785013 (Assam), India
*(e-mail : saratsekharbora@gmail.com)
(Received : 2 March 2020; Accepted : 31 March 2020)

SUMMARY

Assam is basically an agricultural state and about 80 per cent of the people lives in villages. Agriculture and animal husbandry are the twin occupations upon which most of the rural people of Assam are dependent for their livelihood. Though, Assam as well as India has a substantial livestock population yet the production of milk and other livestock product is about the lowest in the world. In absence of sufficient grazing ground for maintaining cattle, sheep, goat on pasture, the importance of cultivation of forage crops to provide feed economically for production of milk, for draught animals need special emphasis. Improved package of practices based forage cultivation is still in its infancy stage in Assam and people generally depend on locally available forage. However, the grazing grounds are shrinking mainly due to population explosion which resulted in low availability of green forage making grazing animals malnourished both for maintenance and production. Nutrition is an integral part of livestock development. In dairy industry green grasses constitute the major ingredient of animal diet. Moreover, green grasses provide most of the essential vitamins and minerals required by the herbivorous animals. The effort made by the Animal Husbandry & Veterinary Department since 1960s to promote cultivation of high yielding fodder grasses in Assam met with negligible progress, although it is of paramount importance for the all-round development of livestock industry in the region. Scarcity of green grasses can greatly be reduced and cost of maintaining such animals in a commercial farm can be greatly reduced when cultivation of high yielding grasses viz. napier, hybrid napier, guinea, para grass, cowpea, maize, oats, teosinte, sorghum, subabul etc. are practiced within the farm premises. However, for selection of the type of grass to be cultivated in a particular farm yard for optimum performance, one should have a clear knowledge about the soil type. Animals are dependent on plants and plants on soil. Soil supplies all the essential micro and macro minerals required by the plant. Soil also supplies trapped atmospheric nitrogen to the plants. Thus soil makes the main natural media for cultivation of various plants including the fodder grasses. However, different fodder grasses needs different kinds of soil for their optimum growth. Efforts have been made to analyse the forage production, availability scenario and to suggest measures for ensuring maximum availability of fodder for sustaining livestock production in Assam.

Key words:Assam, agriculture, livestock, forage production, grazing

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