Forage Crops & Grasses [Part 1]

June 30, 2012
By Krishiworld

India is basically an agricultural country and about 70 per cent of its people live in villages. Their livelihood is dependent mainly on agriculture and animal husbandry. Though India has a huge livestock population of over 343 millions, besides poultry, yet the production of milk and other is about the lowest in the world. The figures regarding the availability per head and the minimum nutritional requirement set by the nutritionists are given in Table 1.

Table 1. Per-head availability and minimum requirements of some livestock products

Product Availability Minimum requirement
Milk 100 g/head/day 201 g/head/day
Meat 1 million tonnes (annually) 7,122 million tonnes (annually)
Eggs 12 eggs/head/year 1 egg/head/year


From the figures set out in Table 1, it is evident that we are highly defficient in various livestock products, though we have about one-fourth of the total cattle population of the world. The analysis of this situation reveals that one of the main reasons for the low productivity of our livestock is malnutrition, under-nutrition or both, besides the low genetic potential of the animals. This fact is adequately supported by the figures given in Table 2.

Table 2. Balance-sheet of animal feeds and fodders

Feeds and fodders Availability Requirement Deficit
Green fodder 224.08 m tonnes 611.99 m tonnes 387.91 m tonnes
Crop residues 231.05 m tonnes 869.79 m tonnes 638.74 m tonnes
Concentrates 31.6 m tonnes 65.4 m tonnes 81.8 m tonnes


It is seen from the figures of availability, vis-a-vis the requirement of green-fodder crops, crop residues and concentrates, that there is a huge gap between demand and supply of all kinds of feeds and fodders.

On the other hand, if we examine the land resources available for growing fodder and forage crops, it is estimated that the average cultivated area devoted to fodder production is only 4.4 per cent of the total area. Similarly, the area under permanent pastures and cultivable wastelands is approximately 13 and 15 million hectares respectively. Likewise, the total area under forests is 2.51 crore hectares and that open to grazing is 2.1 crore hectares. All these resources are able to meet the forage requirements of the grazing animals only during the monsoon season. But for the remaining periods of the year, the animals have to be maintained on the crop residues or straws of jowar, bajra, ragi, wheat, barley, etc. either in the form of whole straw or a bhusa, supplemented with some green fodder, or as sole feed. The crop residues are available mainly from wheat, paddy, bajra, jowar, ragi, sugarcane trash, etc.

natural and seeded pastures. The natural grasslands and the cultivable waste and fallow lands provide some grazing during the favourable growth periods in the monsoon season. These forage resources have been described and measures for their further improvement are high-lighted.

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