JavaScript must be enabled in order for you to use the Site in standard view. However, it seems JavaScript is either disabled or not supported by your browser. To use standard view, enable JavaScript by changing your browser options.

| Last Updated:: 26/11/2015

India has lost half its grasslands in 60 yrs






GURGAON: As demographic pressure increases and development activities grow in volume, India's grassland area is on a continuous decline.


In the last six decades, the country's grassland areas have reduced by nearly 50%, despite India's 512 million livestock population, the highest in the world, Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh said at the 23rd International Grassland Congress (IGC) held recently in Gurgaon, the first time India hosted the meet.

The minister announced the establishment of a "fodder research station" in eastern India to plan and manage grasslands across the country. Consumption of milk and meat, he pointed out, is increasing every year, but the source of sustenance for livestock is eroding at a fast clip.

The congress was organised by Range Management Society of India (RMSI) and the Indian Grassland and Fodder Research Institute (IGFRI).

The minister said agriculture and livestock are traditional sources of livelihood for rural people, but currently, there is a 35.6% deficit in green fodder and 10.9% in dry fodder, which is matter of concern as India is one of the world's biggest milk producers.

Stressing on fodder security for livestock, he said the government is going to prepare a national fodder policy to tackle the situation.

The meet, which was attended by 500 scientists from 47 countries, suggested strengthening market links and public-private partnership for development and sustainability of grasslands.

Union minister for environment and forests Prakash Javadekar said rising population and change in land use were major reasons for the decline in grassland areas. "Earlier, every village used to have its grassland. Now it's disappearing," said Javadekar, adding that grasslands are important for biodiversity. "The entire ecosystem is based on grasslands," said Javadekar, while advocating conservation and development of grasslands.

South Asia regional representative of International Research Institute (ILRI), Dr Alok Jha, said on the basis of suggestions from experts, the congress recommended sustainability of grasslands through integrated soil health management, as well as for engaging people in conservation and development of grasslands.

H B Singh of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) said there was a need to develop a database of common property resources, along with a national programme for rejuvenation of grasslands, insurance and minimum price policy for fodder crops, national policy on feed/fodder, including grassland management, and a policy for a ban on burning crop residues.

P K Ghosh, director, IGFRI, and head of the IGC 2015 organising committee, said because there is no proper data on India's grasslands at present, so they have recommended preparation of a database on availability, productivity and composition of grasslands, forests and protected areas.

"Efforts should be made to restore grasslands. Problematic issues can be resolved through proper multi-stakeholder analysis," he said.