India faces green fodder shortage of 63.5%. The cost of green fodder has increased 3 times between 2011 to 2016. In drought-hit states like UP, MP, Maharastra, AP, Karnataka, TN - inability to feed livestock is forcing them to resort to distress sale of their cattle.
Cattle is farmer's most precious asset because desi cows are source for fertiliser, fuel and food. Farmer's sovereignty or independence is only assured till he can make is own manure, till his own farm and have access to food. Unfortunately, he is forced to sell his cows due to lack of fodder and water-stress.
1. Farmers have ditched fodder crops for cash crops and pulses that get government support.
2. When there is water scarcity - we just think about our drinking water, not about fodder.
3. Shrinking common land or Gauchar which have been illegally occupied. India's development has come at the cost of common spaces that were traditionally used for grazing. As per NSSO report in 1999, only 15% of India's geographical area was under Common Property Resources (CPR) - which has been declining @ 2% every year!
Not all is lost. Here are few things that can be done:
Convince the village community to develop common land to help the entire community. Panchayat level committee which can manage the land needs to be set up in each village.
Land holders with empty lands or farm houses should cultivate fodder crops and plant trees compulsorily.
Earlier days, after harvest farmers would let the cattle graze on their land and he would get free fertiliser in return. Today, his vision is to sell the left over of cash crops as fodder to earn some money, but he does not realise that he pays more for chemical fertiliser!
Water scarcity itself can be overcome by keeping the soil porus using desi cow jeevamrit. Water run offs due to soil compaction are a major reason for drought.
Using desi cow manure to grow crops, feeding her with crop leftovers is a sustainable cycle which should not be broken because another vicious cycle begins otherwise.