Sorghum fodder to be supplied to Aavin members at half the price

The State government’s bid to overcome fodder shortage for livestock in the drought-hit delta districts has come to fruition with the harvest of the crop raised under the special Drought Mitigation Sorghum Cultivation Scheme in Karur district.

Karur is the first district among the targeted delta districts to successfully harvest the green fodder . The harvested fodder has been distributed at subsidised rates for the benefit of dairy farmers attached to Aavin milk cooperative societies.

The scheme is the result of the State government’s serious thought on overcoming drought-induced fodder shortage. With rains failing in the past few months and Cauvery carrying practically no water for several months , dairy farmers and herd owners were feeling the pinch of fodder scarcity along with their cattle and livestock.

The price of green and dry fodder skyrocketed beyond the scope of poor farmers depriving the animals their regular food intake. So much so that many dairy farmers sold their cattle for cheap rates unable to bear the burgeoning fodder cost. It was then that the State government stepped in to stem the tide by launching the scheme to provide green fodder at subsidised rates to the farmers in delta districts. Of the estimated cultivation cost of Rs.13,600 per acre, the State provided a subsidy of Rs. 6,800 per acre to aid farmers raise quality sorghum fodder. About 700 acres in Karur district were planned to be covered under the scheme and a sum of Rs. 49.50 lakh was allotted for the purpose.

Sorghum seeds were procured from the National Seeds Corporation; their germination tested and were disbursed to the target farmers early in April. A team of officials led by District Collector S. Jayandhi regularly monitored the growth of the plants.

Then the fodder coordination committee, with the Collector in the chair, met to fix the price of fodder to be procured during which the farmers who raised crop urged the committee to fix the price on a par with the prevailing market rates.

Finally the committee fixed the price of green fodder at Rs. 4 per kg and that of dry fodder at Rs.20 a kg. It has been decided to distribute the procured fodder to members of the Aavin milk producer cooperative societies at a subsidised rate of Rs.2 per kg for green fodder and Rs.10 per kg for dry fodder.

"In a way the fodder scheme is to the cattle what the popular Amma restaurant scheme is to the people, making available quality food at affordable rates. Dairy farmers stand to gain immensely with the subsidised sorghum distribution scheme that helps us to retain the animals that we were planning to sell at rock bottom prices due to fodder scarcity,’’ observes S. Manikkam of Nachalur and a member of the cooperative milk producers’ society.