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Posted at: Jun 5, 2019, 7:10 AM; last updated: Jun 5, 2019, 9:36 AM (IST)

Worst drought in 40 yrs, Maha runs out of fodder

Worst drought in 40 yrs, Maha runs out of fodder
A cow walks on the parched bed of the Koyna dam in Satara district of Maharashtra. File photo

Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service
Mumbai, June 4

Maharashtra, which is facing its worst-ever drought since 1972, is running out of fodder for more than 10 lakh heads of cattle that have been shifted to 1,501 cattle camps which have opened across the state.

While the price of dry fodder has doubled to Rs 18-20 per kg, fresh green fodder has virtually disappeared. Even the permission given to cattle camp contractors to chop up small plants and shrubs in the vicinity has not helped and government officials are asking farmers to cut down the standing sugarcane crop for use as cattle feed.

To ensure that even half-grown sugarcane is made available as cattle fodder, the state government stopped sugarcane crushing last month. Water for irrigation has already been stopped since supplies are being conserved for drinking, officials said.

According to sources, agriculture department officials have indicated that monsoons could be late this year and this could destroy the sugarcane crop due for harvesting later this year.

“If the monsoons are late by even a few weeks, there is a possibility that the farmers will lose the entire sugarcane crop. Hence, it is being suggested that they allow the immature crop to be harvested,” an official said.

To incentivise farmers to harvest their crop, cattle camp contractors are paying them Rs 4-5 per kg of sugarcane. With the price for cattle feed soaring, the Maharashtra government has increased payments to cattle camp contractors to Rs 100 per fully grown animal per day while it is Rs 50 per calf, according to state government sources.

CM Devendra Fadnavis said Rs 1,300 crore has been sanctioned for the cattle camps. Meanwhile, Maharashtra’s Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Chandrakant Patil announced last week that the state government would set up fodder camps for sheep and goats as well.

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