Buying several commercial feeds available in the markets today is not profitable for a small farmer and is sure to burn a hole in their pocket, according to him.
Since 1995 the Koipuram Milk society, Kelrala encouraged fodder production for its members and introduced different fodder grasses like Congo Signal, Gunnie grass, Hybrid Napier like CO1, CO2 and CO3 in the area. By 2009, 150 hectares in the region were brought under different types of fodder cultivation.
“We brought four cuttings of CO4 Hybrid Napier grass from Tamil Nadu Agriculture University Coimbatore, and multiplied it in our KVK farm.
“Today our farmers are selling this fodder to several private farms in Kollam, Allapuzha, Kottayam and Idukki Districts. On an average 800-1,200 Kg of green fodder is being sold today by the farmers of this society,” says Dr. C. P. Robert, Programme Co-ordinator, CARD-KVK (Christian agency for rural development- Krishi Vigyan Kendra), Pathanamthitta district, Kerala. CARD KVK has been in the forefront of fodder promotion in the Pathanamthitta district and has been conducting many trials to identify suitable forage varieties for the district. Dairy farmers are given training on scientific fodder management practices as and when the need arises.
Feeding one bundle (15Kg) of CO4 grass has been found to increase milk yield by almost 200 ml per cow. Seeing this superior growth characteristic, farmers are replanting CO4 variety today and it has almost replaced the previous CO3 variety. Till date several lakh cuttings of this grass have been sold to different agriculture project areas in Kerala. Farmers are selling this fodder for Rs 1.30 a kg and are able to harvest 7-8 cuttings a year (the cuttings may vary with the availability of water). Many are able to get an average yield of 270 tonnes per hectare and earn Rs. 15,000 as net profit annually. The society also generates 300 days of employment through this activity a year, according to Dr. Robert.