Fodder Plant Plants used to feed domesticated livestock. Fodder plants can be divided into three categories: Leguminous, Non-leguminous and Tree fodder. The entire plants including leaves, grains, stalks and stems of the former two types are consumed by livestock but in later case, only leaves and shots are usually consumed by the livestock. In Bangladesh paddy straw and dry plant residues of oil seeds and pulses constitute the major fodder component. Cattle generally graze on grasses that constitute the major element of fodder. Cattle and other grazing animals also browse on green leaves and twigs of many shrubs and trees in hilly forest areas. Pseudostem of banana plants, bamboo leaves and petioles and leaves of water hyacinth are also used as scarcity fodder in many parts of the country. Palatability, nutritive value, particularly crude protein and fibre content are considered as the major attributes of fodder plants. In selecting fodder trees and shrubs, their adaptability to particular sites, looping capacity and production per unit area are taken into consideration. The fodder production system is not equally distributed all over the country. There are certain Milk Pocket areas of Bangladesh, where Lathyrus and Black gram (Mati Kalai) are available during winter season, but in other areas green fodder availability during winter season is very much scares.
To solve the feed problem in the country, bangladesh livestock research institute (BLRI) has taken an initiative to conserve, multiply and distribute high yielding fodder germplasm to the farmers. The following germplasm are available in the BLRI: BLRI-Napier-1 (Pennisetum purpureum-Bajra), BLRI-Napier-2 (Pennisetum purpureum var. L-Arusa), BLRI-Napier-3 (Pennisetum purpureum var. L-hybrid), Andorpogan (Andropogan gyanus), Pangola (Digitaria decumbens), Para (Brachiara mutica), Splendida (Setaria splendida), Ruzi (Brachiaria ruziziensis), Jumboo (Hybrid sorghum), Guinea (Panicum maximum), Signal (Brachiaria decumbens), German (Echinocloa crusgali), Buffel (Cenchrus ciliaris), Desmodium (Desmodium intortum), Paspalum (Paspalum plicatulum cv paspalum), Plicatulum (Paspalum Plicatulum), Centro (Centrosema pubescen), Stylo (Stylosamthes guiannensis), Ipil-Ipil (Leucaena leucocephala), Kurdzo (Tropical Kurdzo), Pintui (Arachis pintoi), Glyricidia (Glyricidia sepium) and Ficus (Malaysian). In addition, the local germplasm Dal grass (Hymenachne psedointerruta) and Baksha are available in BLRI Germplasm Bank.
Other than Dal and Baksha, some grasses are grown in different agro-ecological zones of the country that are used for consumption as fodder. They include Chaila, Chapra, Monia, Durba, Jora Grass, Arayil, Kanai Bashi, Kanai Lota, Uilu, Mutha, Angta, Gamari, Puti grass, Japani Lota, Nol Grass etc.
Grazing land in Bangladesh is becoming scarce. So production of fodder is decreasing day by day with the decrease of land. Currently the demand for green grasses is estimated at about 70 million matric tons. We produce only about 24 million metric tons in the country. So the deficit stands for 66 percent. To solve this problem, where there is the availability of land, high yielding fodder plants need to be cultiuvated either as a solo crop or in an integrated manner. Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute (BLRI) has recently developed and distributed 13 high yielding grasses to the farmers for cultivation. Among those, Napier and Zamboo are important. Two trucks of Napier cuttings from BLRI were distributed at Baghabari of Sirajganj district in 1999. Now the demand for such cuttings has increased to about 200 trucks. There has been a sharp increase of demand for green grasses at Baghabari and a market for it has been developed there in an organized manner. This should be followed in other areas of the country as well. A study of BLRI shows that fodder cultivation is profitable. So farmers of the country should be motivated properly by the extension agents for its cultivation. [Jahangir Alam and Nathu Ram Sarker] [Alam, Jahangir former Director General, Bangladesh Livestook Reserch Institute, Savar, Dhaka]