Sunday 11 March 2012

Livestock; Dwindling Livestock population is Affecting the Rural people

        What was the livestock scenario during 1970s? It may not be satisfactory in terms of total contribution in the state and national economy. But, it was well worth to mention that livestock maintenance during that time was easy and affordable. It was due to huge pasture lands that keeping of livestock was not a problem.
        From the own voice of the elderly person, it really throws the light of that time; “We would keep a large herd of buffalo, it was only later part of the seventy’s there was entry of Cow in the area.
        Now, Buffalo keeping is very less and restricted only in few places of Tripura. In those days, we let all the Buffalo free to the Jungle for grazing during months of January, interestingly, and these Buffalo is brought back during the month of the April or May by the farmers for their utilization in farm operation and also other utility”.
        But, now the situation is quite different, there is real challenge in maintenance of livestock in the rural areas due to shrinkage of pasture lands and also several ecological and climatic changes.
        There was a time, people would let all their cattle in the farm lands after the harvest of kharif paddy but, now, there is completely different picture. There is decline in cattle population in the rural areas and it has affected the people in several ways;
      • Milk has become scarce item in the rural areas
      • Dependency on power tiller increased due to decline of drought animals
     • Manure become scarce due to decline of cattle population which has affected in soil health so is crop productivity
     • Farmers/people deprived of side income through selling of cattle
        There is anxiety amongst the rural people for maintaining the livestock in the changing rural scenario. People apprehend for harsh reality in maintaining the livestock due to the changes brought out by the land use pattern and several other ecological and climatic impacts.
        On 14.02.2012, a group of villager consisting of 14 nos. aged persons was discussing their cattle resources and its management in the prevailing situation.
        These aged persons were form Tuikrama area under Sonanura Sub-Division of West Tripura (now Sepahijala) District.
Their main points of discussion were:
• Shrinkage of Pasture lands
• Prolong dry spell
• Depleting Cattle resources

Pasture land Non-availability:

        Now, the main problem that is associated with the livestock or cattle rearing is lack of pasture lands in almost all rural areas. This is prominently evident in the rubber predominant zones.
     Pasture land is shrinking day by day in the area like Tuiwandal, Tuikrama, Chhundul, Mirza and Rani. Reason of shrinkage of pasture land is mainly due to the changes in the land utilization pattern by the rural people of the State.
        The first and foremost factor that has influenced the pasture land is Rubber plantation, Rubber plantation has penetrated almost all areas, leaving very little for use as other non-forestry purpose including grazing of cattle etc.

Prolong Dry Spell:

        In the present climatic / weather condition that started especially from the month of January to end of the February and beginning of the Mach, there has been no rain (except in few cases), every thing is dried and grasses in the fields are dried up.
     There is no new flush or regeneration or growth of grasses even in the one cropped areas too due to water stress in the recurrent prolong dry spell that is being observed now-a-days.
        In the situation like this, cattle rancher / farmers have to depend on the preserved Rice straw for feeding their cattle. However, preserved rice straw would not last long, if dry spell continues in this case there will be may more difficulties in maintaining the live stock in the farm.
      This situation will not favor the animal resources to develop in the rural condition but a detrimental factor for negative growth of the resources. Of course, this is only the one factor that influenced the cattle resources of the state but there are many intriguing factors too.

Depleting Cattle Resources:

       Now, the cattle population in those rural areas is in dwindling condition, number of cattle is decreasing day by day. Farmers no longer maintain cattle stock in numbers, it is only few they maintain at present due to lack of pasture land or otherwise grazing land. Cattle resources require;
  • Available pasture lands
  • Good support mechanisms from the Government
  • Proper mechanisms to deal with any disease out break
  • Regulated marketing of animal and other product and
  • Preventing any illegal movement of animals through international boundary
Ways to improve the Situation
        Animal resource plays a vital role in rural economy, in the present situation there is good market trends. Farmers can earn a good share of income through selling of animal and animal products. In addition, there is huge requirement for the cow dung manure in the manure starved farms in the rural areas.
       The time has to take the matter seriously and intervene in the matter for improving the situation in the flowing ways;
  • Earmarking of pasture lands ensuring the people to use
  • Popularization of fodder cultivation
  • Creating awareness for ensuring the intensive livestock farm
  • Creating awareness for improving the animal resource for over all farm productivity
                                       Agritangkol dated 05.03.2012

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