Agriculture

Green fodder shortage hits milk production in Bihar, farmers affected

Unable to feed them, farmers resort to distress sale of cattle

 
By Mohd Imran Khan,
Published: Thursday 11 November 2021
Green fodder shortage hits milk production in Bihar, farmers affected. Photo: iStock

Milk production has decreased in Bihar due to shortage of green fodder for milch cattles following excessive rainfall and repeated floods during monsoon this year. This has badly affected cattle farmers.

Sanjay Kumar, deputy director, Bihar Dairy Development Directorate, several farmers had to sell off their milch cattles.  

Shortage of green fodders forced hundreds of farmers to sell their cattle in flood-affected Supaul, Katihar, Madhubani, Darbhanga, Vaishali, Begusarai and Samastipur districts.

Mahesh Mandal, a cattle farmer from Darbhanga, said repeated floods damaged the kharif crop too: “We lost green fodder, a staple diet for milch cattles. We cultivated it again after water receded, but it will take a month for it to be ready for harvest.”

He added that with early floods after surplus rainfall in mid-June, farmers used available dry fodder in their storage and green fodder to feed cattle. All was washed or destroyed by floods.

Another cattle farmer, Suraj Yadav of Supaul, said the situation compelled them to resort to distress sale of cattle or purchase high cost dry fodder from the market.

Most fodder and cattle feed went to waste in floods, which have led to the death of 43 people and affected 3 million across 2,104 villages. With cattle already under stress, standing in floodwaters, their yield has gone down. Cows, which used to give 12 litres of milk, now give an average of six litres a day.

Both Mandal and Yadav said increase in dry fodder price also affected them. Till early this year, dry fodder rate cost Rs 500-600 per quintal, which later increased to Rs 900-1,000 a quintal.

Mandal said rising price of diesel also contributed to rise of dry fodder rate: “The government has failed to help cattle farmers of flood-affected districts by not providing dry cattle feed at subsidy rate.”

Milk production decreased 30-40 per cent due to shortage of green fodder in the state, according to officials of the Bihar State Milk Co-Operative Federation Ltd (COMFED).

COMFED’s average daily fresh milk procurement has come down to 8-10 lakh litres from 17-18 lakh litres last year.

Milk production was hit by COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020. Daily milk procurement was nearly 17 lakh litres in 2020; it was more than 18 lakh litres in 2018-19, said COMFED officials.

COMFED is reportedly purchasing milk from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Rajasthan to bridge its demand-supply gap.

Bihar received only three per cent surplus rainfall till September 30 following the arrival of the monsoon on time. This is less than last year’s, when the state received 25 per cent surplus rainfall from June-September.

Heavy rainfall in the state is normal from July-August. But Bihar received surplus rainfall in June this year, just as the monsoon arrived. This resulted in floods in the low-lying areas.

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