Forage production in rainfed areas of Pakistan

In rainfed farming system, animal husbandry plays a crucial role in rural economy and is closely linked with cropping system and dominated by small and the landless farmers.

Forage production in rainfed areas of PakistanLivestock feeding is a critical component of livestock management in the rainfed farming system. Under rainfed conditions, fodder is not evenly available throughout the year.

The crop residues and crops specifically grown for fodder purposes forms the bulk of the feed for both cattle and buffalo. The livestock holders access to grazing land help in a relatively more economical way to meet the dietary needs of the animals.

The supplementation of concentrates is another way to nourish the animals during fodder scarcity periods. to increased demand, improved forage crops such as multicut oats, berseem, Lucerne, sorghum- sudan grass hybrids, sorghum, maize and millet have been developed.

  • Problems
  • The natural vegetation is sparse and poorly available in the Pothwar area.
  • Poor quality and scanty grass and scrub vegetation exist on steep eroded soils and mountain sides, but extensive grazing does not permit this vegetation to thrive.
  • Persistent nutritional stress.
  • Lack of improved fodder varieties.
  • Lack of fodder preservation techniques for lean period.

 Small land holdings.

  • Lack of sufficient irrigation facilities.
  • High cost of cultivation.
  • Lack of processing facilities.
  • Poor dissemination of knowledge in various aspects of forage production.
  • Prospects

1- Mixed farming: – should continue in a situation of small land holding; this has been greatly facilitated by mechanisation. Since crop residues are deficient in protein and minerals, the forages grown should preferably be legumes so that poor crop residues could be better supplemented.

In milk-shed areas with adequate demand and sufficient facilities for marketing liquid milk, agriculture has shifted towards dairying and commercial forage production.

In large parts of the Barani areas during winter, the wheat and barley crops have admixtures of rapeseed, chickpeas, and mustards. The summer crops have admixtures of maize, millets, sorghum, and guar. Some part of every crop is fed to livestock.

2-Mono-Cropping – The mono-cropping system for rain-fed areas may be wheat-fallow, sorghum-fallow, wheat-wheat and sorghum-sorghum. Continuous sorghum may produce four times as much grain as wheat fallow cropping system.

This is because sorghum has in built characteristics to use water efficiently and tolerate drought conditions. Barley, because of low water requirements, may be another option to replace wheat in low rainfall areas, 52 per cent production of barley is obtained from rain-fed areas.

  • Results and Discussion

Rabi and Kharif Fodder Intervention In barani Pothwar, rabi fodders are cultivated in winter and harvested in summer. Usually in rainfed areas, green fodder remains deficient in summer season. Fodder deficiency effects both animal and human population of the area. Some time prolonged bad weather conditions forced farmers to sell their animals.

Hence to resolve this important issue cultivation of improved rabi fodder varieties like combination of oat vetch and barley vetch has been demonstrated. Majority of the farmers (42%) preferred to test oat sole and (30%) farmers have grown barley sole instead of combination of these varieties.

Similarly, to increase the green fodder availability in winter lean period (December-February) improved variety of guar has been introduced. Almost all participating farmers have appreciated this intervention.

By Muhammad Waqas

Farming is not just a way of life, it keeps everybody alive.