Importance of crop residues in crop–livestock systems in India and farmers’ perceptions of fodder quality in coarse cereals
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Parthasarathy Rao, P. and A.J. Hall. 2003. Importance of crop residues in crop–livestock systems in India and farmers’ perceptions of fodder quality in coarse cereals. Field Crops Research 84(1-2): 189-198
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/200
The mixed crop–livestock systems of India are underpinned by the crop residues which contribute on an average 40–60% of the total dry matter intake per livestock unit. There is however considerable regional variation in the dominant type of crop residue: rice and wheat straws in irrigated regions compared to coarse cereal straws and hay from leguminous crops in the drier, semi-arid regions. This paper synthesizes a series of recent studies on the role and importance of crop residues and farmers’ perceptions of fodder quantity and quality in coarse cereal and groundnut based feeding systems. Crop improvement programs for sorghum, pearl millet and groundnut have traditionally focused on grain/pod yield improvement, pest and water stress tolerance. Only relatively recently have dual-purpose (grain and fodder) plant types been developed. While the nutritive value of fodder from dual-purpose crops can be determined through in vivo and in vitro analysis, such experimental procedures cannot necessarily capture the often-subjective quality attributes that farmers (and their animals) value. Results indicate that farmers perceive a range of quality traits, some of which could be screened for relatively easily, whereas others may be more difficult to assess. These findings highlight the importance of farmer participatory evaluation of fodder traits in the development of improved dual-purpose varieties. However the impact of these varieties on poor farm households will be contingent on the complementary improvement in the effectiveness of seed systems.
Supported by the CGIAR System-wide Livestock Programme