English | Dzongkha Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Fodder shortage in winter becomes history in Lhuntse

Jan 3, 2021

Dairy farmers of Lhuntse will no longer have to travel miles in search of fodder for their cattle, beating the harsh winter and terrains. They have found the answer in Hydroponic farming, a technology of horticulture, which grows plants in a greenhouse without using soil.

Winter is quite a challenge for those who rear cattle, all for the shortage of fodder. However, in Lhuntse, the concern will be no more. 

Last winter was harsh for Thinley Jamtsho and his younger brother under Maenbi Gewog. They travelled miles in search of feed for their cattle. But now, the brothers have left it all to the blessings of the new method of growing fodder.   

”We feed plants from the hydroponic cultivation and regular fodder alternatively, and ever since, we have noticed that the new feed yields more milk,’’ said Thinley Jamtsho. 

Like him, five other dairy farmers in two gewogs of the dzongkhag have also followed suit. Today, they mostly grow maize plants. 

Tashi Wangchuk from Minjey Gewog has been into rearing jersey for almost three years now. And he said there is a difference in milk production.

”Last year was hard for me, but from this year, I don’t have to struggle to find fodder. The hydroponic feed has also increased the milk production,’’ he said. 

The pilot project was implemented by the district livestock sector with financial support from the Commercial Agriculture and Resilient Livelihoods Enhancement Programme (CARLEP) and International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD). 

Farmers share that the new fodder saves both cost and labour. According to Tashi Wangchuk, it is much cheaper than the Karma feeds. 

According to the Assistant District Livestock Officer, Phurba Tshering, the new method of growing fodder was initiated in the district so that farmers are able to grow enough fodder during winter. 

He added, ”it is also to make dairy farming sustainable in the dzongkhag.’’ 

In the new method, the fodder seeds are soaked in warm water for 12 hours and let to germinate. The sprouts are then distributed in a plastic tray and laid inside the greenhouse. All that is required afterwards is to sprinkle water to keep the seeds moist. In two weeks, the fodder is ready for a feed. 

Sonam Tshering 

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