Even as Mysuru district has fodder stocks that can last for the next 24 months, farmers are being given kits containing fodder seeds to cultivate forage for livestock as a measure to ensure fodder availability until next monsoon.
Mysuru has received over 67,000 fodder kits for free distribution through 181 veterinary centers in all taluks. More kits are expected to arrive as nearly 50% of kits, each containing 5 kg of seeds, have been distributed so far.
If cultivated, farmers could get fodder for animal needs in the next 90 days. Three varieties of fodder seeds are being distributed – Sorghum (multicut), African Tall (maize) and Giant Bajra (pearl millet) – and farmers can choose any one of the varieties for cultivation in their fields.
Fodder cultivation is being promoted in the wake of drought. Mysuru is a drought-hit district and it has become essential to ensure fodder availability for livestock until April-May, say officials at the Department of Animal Husbandry which has been distributing seeds since the past 10 days.
Animal Husbandry Deputy Director Nagaraj told The Hindu that a sufficient number of kits had been supplied to the district and interested farmers were getting the seeds for free. The distribution is being documented with details of farmers.
“We don’t see any shortage if farmers grow fodder in their fields. If at all there is a shortage despite the ongoing efforts, fodder banks can be opened and cattle camps can be organised. But such a scenario may not arrive if the precautions are taken. In areas where there were irrigation facilities, fodder shortage was unlikely,” he explained.
He said farmers can sell surplus fodder to farmers in other districts where there was a shortage next year.
As there was unseasonal rain a few days ago, most farmers planted fodder seeds. After Sankranti next year, fodder harvest can be expected. At the same time, farmers can safely stock dry fodder for next year and make use of green fodder as a precaution, he said.
A few years ago, when the district had deficit rains, the fodder situation had become worrisome as mainly small farmers had not stocked up on fodder. The fodder banks sold fodder at 50% subsidy though the market price was very high. The rise in demand had resulted in increase in fodder prices, causing anxiety and worry for authorities and farmers alike. The rise in demand had triggered an increase in fodder price to as high as ₹7,000 a tonne.
In neighbouring districts, farmers are being encouraged to conserve available fodder stocks for their livestock and also cultivate fodder for the days ahead so that they don’t face any shortage.