MIRZA, July 25 - At a time when cattle rearers in flood-prone areas in Assam have been facing shortage of fodder for their animals due to damage to grasslands in the floods, the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary department has come up with an innovative model to mitigate the fodder shortage.
Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department director Ashok Kumar Barman has started plantation of a highly productive flood-resistant perennial grass variety called Napier (Pennisetum purpureum) in a wasteland in the campus of the Veterinary Dispensary in Mirza. He has invested his own fund and has tried to create awareness among farmers on grasses like Napier so as to withstand the scarcity and feed the livestock without waiting for government relief.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Barman said cultivation of Napier could be a profitable business for entrepreneurs as the grass is being sold at Rs 5 per kg and farmers or government agencies could become prospective buyers.
�Napier grass � an elephant grass species � can survive in flood for many days, compared to other naturally growing or planted grass, and hence can be a boon for livestock rearers during flood. Farmers can also raise some other grasses like Para, Gini, which can also survive in flood for many days,� said Barman.
He said the department has adequate stock of seeds and roots of Napier and other fodder grasses and interested farmers and entrepreneurs can contact the department for getting those for free. He said cultivation of such grasses has several advantages � it can be cut every three months for feeding livestock, and conventional grasses like maize and others die in flood or rain but Napier grows well during rainy days.
Barman was also successful in developing a huge plot of Napier grassland in wasteland of the sericulture department in Darrang district a couple of years back when he was Deputy Commissioner of Darrang district. He said offices of other departments too could help in planting flood-resistant grasses in their respective campuses.
Barman also said that forest officials from the flood-hit Pobitora wildlife sanctuary approached the department for such grass to be able to feed the affected animals there. Forest officials later collected the grass and took it the wildlife sanctuary.