Grass farming nets profits for farmersUntil few years ago, Kimsara Khadka of Maintada, Surkhet, was unaware that money could be grown from livestock fodder grass. When she heard about the idea of grass farming three years ago, she was surprised.
Until few years ago, Kimsara Khadka of Maintada, Surkhet, was unaware that money could be grown from livestock fodder grass. When she heard about the idea of grass farming three years ago, she was surprised.
But now, Khadka has been making a handsome income growing grass.
“I did not trust the idea at first,” she said. “But when some people started making money, I realized grass farming can be a good source of income.” Khadka said. She earned close to Rs200,000 by selling grass.
Grass is a perennial plant and its benefits are: it doesn’t have to be plowed, planted and mechanically harvested. They are cheaper to grow and highly valuable due to growing commercial livestock. “We were unable to sustain from the crops grown in a small field for more than three months,” the 55-year-old Khadka said. “But we can grow fodder grass on a small piece of land and harvest plenty.” Like Khadka, many women in Bheriganga municipality of Surkhet have started growing grass as a means of generating income. They also raise cattle. There are also several groups like Basghari Women Group that have been encouraging women to grow fodder grass.
Livestock fodder grass are mainly cultivated during the season when crops are not cultivated, according to Shila BK, chairman of the group. “It was difficult to believe the idea at first,” said BK. “But now grass farming has become a good source of income for many women.”
The bhatmas grass fetch Rs1,000 per kg, mendula grass Rs500 per kg, indu grass Rs700 per kg and lyaplyape grass gets Rs500 per kg. Various livestock companies buy the grass and fodder from the women’s groups. District Livestock Service Office, District Agriculture Development Office, High Value Agriculture Project, and among others purchase livestock grasses directly from the farmers.
Heifer International Nepal launched the project to promote small farmers. There are 2,254 women in Bheriganga involved in commercial grass farming. The women plant grass at any barren land and add water to grow them. Farmers said cultivating grass also improves soil health apart from providing nutritious fodder for cattle.
The market for grass has been very profitable to the women. “The agriculture facilities here are still not good enough to make enough earning to support livelihoods,” said BK. “But grass can be grown in dry hills and barren land.” According to Khadka, farmer will bring more land under grass cultivation in the coming season as it has proved them to be profitable.