Crisis-hit state to grow fodder on govt lands

Starvation and death threaten 1.4 lakh animals now lodged at 193 state-run `goshalas’ (cattle camps), unless the state government continues to replenish its fodder stock. If drought has wiped out the Rabi and Kharif crops and deprived cattle of agriculture fodder (dry), an evading monsoon has affected growth of natural (green) fodder. Weary of purchasing fodder at high prices frome neighbouring states, the government is now planning to be self-reliant.

Last week, a helpless state government purchased 3,300 metric tonnes of paddy hay from Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh. However, the State now plans to expand its area under fodder cultivation on a war footing. “Drought has affected both food and fodder production. With the decline in sowing and the subsequent crop loss, areas under fodder cultivation have declined. Every day, the government spends a minimum of Rs 1 crore to maintain its livestock. With stock across 78 fodder banks likely to last for only nine weeks, we have mapped government lands and farms under the departments of animal husbandry, agriculture, horticulture and forests to grow fodder plants. Within three months, we can replenish ourstocks,” said K. Amaranarayana, secretary, Revenue department (Disaster Management).

Till recently, the State depended heavily on agriculture crops for dry fodder. Fodder cultivation was prevalent only across 669 acres, on the farms coming under the Animal Husbandry and Horticulture departments. The total yield was about 31,230 metric tonnes of fodder. But now, the State has set an additional target of 40,000 MT of green fodder over the next three months. “Nearly 3.50 lakh minikits have been supplied free of cost to farmers to grow 17.46 MT of green fodder across 34, 937 hectares. While, another 40,000 MT will be grown across 400 hectares at a cost of Rs 3 crore. For that, the deputy commissioners have been directed to identify lands suitable for fodder nurseries,” explained Amaranarayana.

With lack of storage and transport facilities and the high cost of fodder in neighbouring states, fodder management is the next big challenge facing the government after drinking water.

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