UP: Napier Grass Cultivation Campaign Gaining Popularity Among Farmers
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Bahraich: An African native grass variety is gaining popularity among farmers here for use as green fodder and ease of cropping, a successful experiment which authorities want to replicate across the state.
Around six months back, farmers in the district were introduced to Cenchrus purpureus, commonly known as Napier grass or Elephant grass, and encouraged to grow it in their fields as green fodder.
The local administration pushed for cultivation of the grass considering its versatility and nutritional value as green fodder.
According to agriculture experts, the grass contains more protein as compared to the traditional green fodder.
"Along with its nutritional value, Napier grass is easy to cultivate and manage. It grows easily even on bare and less fertile land and grows around the year.
"The rate of growth of the grass is also high which ensures round the year availability of green fodder which is essential for dairy animals," said Sambhav Singh, senior scientist with the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR), in Lucknow.
In Bahraich, the grass is currently grown in around 50 hectares area, which is half of the estimated target area for the year.
Deputy Chief Minister Brajesh Pathak and Chief Secretary Durga Shankar Mishra, on tour of the district earlier this week, had appreciated the campaign, and instructed officials across the state to push for cultivation of Napier grass.
The animal husbandry department is also cultivating the grass to be supplied as fodder in cow shelters across the state.
District Magistrate Dinesh Chandra Singh told PTI that Napier grass has been used as green fodder for animals in many countries, including Israel, US, Thailand and Uganda.
Earlier, it was used only for fodder for elephants. But in the past few years, in some states of India, it is being used successfully as green fodder for cows and other animals.
In Bahraich, the seeds of Napier grass were distributed to farmers through the Agriculture and Horticulture Department.
A farmer Ram Niwas Singh of Patupur village in Huzurur block said encouraged by the officials, he cultivated Napier grass in half acre of his land.
"I don't need to buy fodder for my animal anymore," he added.
Binod Singh of Sheikhapur village of Viveshwarganj block and Arjun Tiwari of Maina village also counted advantages of growing Napier grass in their fields.
Deputy Commissioner of MGNREGA, K D Goswami, said as part of the special drive, Napier grass has been cultivated near the cattle sheds in different parts of the district.
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