Paddy pasture Project

 Chaisang Phaikaew, Sopon Chinvaroj and Chirawat Khemsawat

 Summary

       In 2002 Thai government promoted forage production and encouraged marketing, by supporting 6,280 farmers to produce hay and silage instead of rice and regular cash crops. 2,480 farmers cultivated Pangola grass replacing rice in lowland, which was called “Paddy pasture”. It was called in Thai as “Na Yaa Project”. Another 3,800 farmers cultivated grasses and legumes appropriate for upland area. During October 2002 – July 2003, farmers obtained total income of 111 million baht from 49,555 tons of forage dry matter produced. Fresh grass and legume, silage and hay are the main products to sell.
       In 2005, paddy pasture project has scaled up to grow forage for sell in 43 provinces in the area of 21,345 rai (or 3415 ha ), by 221 groups of farmer with 6,607 members. More kinds of grass and legumes have been planted. Farmers earn good income from growing grass. Uptil now, the total gross benefit in 4 year (2002-2005) are 250 million baht, from the total 159,689 tons of fodder products.

Picture 1. Pangola grass growing in lowland area (replacing paddy rice)

Background Information

        Thailand has approximately 350,000 head of dairy cattle and 5,550,185 head of beef cattle which have resulted in a large demand for good quality pasture. Using high quality forages can increase milk and meat production and decrease the cost of production. However, it was recognized that trends of land used for animal production decreased substantially while labor shortage became another constraint for farmers to produce fodder for the commercial purpose cattle production. To overcome the vital constraint, starting from January 2002, the government of Thailand supports 6,280 farmers produced hay and silage instead of rice or regular cash-crops in order to create new career, increasing income and decreasing risk of cash-crop production under the National Economic Stimulation Plan.

       The Fodder Production and Marketing Encouragement Project proposed by the Division of Animal Nutrition, Department of Livestock Development in early September 2001. By seeing the important and advantage of the project, the Royal Government approved and provided extra budget amount 173,350,000 baht (approximately 3.8 million US dollar) to support 200 farmer groups cultivate pasture grass and legume for marketing purpose. The Paddy pasture project has been started since January 2002, and was called in Thai as “Na Yaa Project”.

_____________________________________________________________________
* Division of Animal Nutrition, Department of Livestock Development. E-mail: chaisangp@dld.go.th


Objectives of the project
include:

1) To create new career and additional source of income for farmers.

2) To increase good quality forage in response to increasing demand of cattle in the

country.

3) To increase productivity and efficiency of milk production.


Implementation

           According to the project, the suitable forages species were selected to each area in 32 provinces of Thailand in 2002.

          For upland area, the ranges of forage grass and legume species appropriated to upland area were cultivated by 3,800 farmers in many provinces, i.e.

on the area of 2 rai per family ( 0.32 hectare ). Each farmer expects to produce approximately 5 tons of hay, and other products i.e. silage or soilage, which will provide average farm income 20,000 baht per annum.

This project was scheduled to terminate in one fiscal year. However, the government of Thailand has supported the initiation of similar projects on larger scale in the following years.

Picture2. Farmers in Chainat province are planting Pangola grass in lowland area, harvesting grass and making hay.

Fodder Production in 2002-2003

            During October 2002 – July 2003, there were 6,325 farmers in 32 provinces, with planting area of 23,055 rai ( 3,689 ha ) produced the following fodders:

             Fresh grass                                   98,039,494                       kg
             Hay Grass                                      18,000,631                       kg
            Silage Grass                                     1,536,538                       kg
            Fresh Legume                                  1,769,914                       kg
            Hay Legume                                        216,035                        kg
            Legume Silage                                    122,581                       kg
            Total dry matter produced were 49,555,448 kg , with total income of 111,380,613 baht.

Picture 3. Fresh forage was harvested by farmer to sell to the dairy farm.

Picture 4. Grass and legume hay

Picture 5. Grass and legume silage were produced to sell.


Current Production

          In 2005, paddy pasture project has scaled up to grow forage for sell in 43 provinces in the area of 21,345 rai (or 3415 ha ), by 221 groups of farmer with 6,607 members. More kinds of grass and legumes have been planted in addition to the original plan, such as Atratum grass (Paspalum atratum), Plicatulum grass (Paspalum plicatulum), Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum), Para grass (Brachiaria mutica), Setaria (Setaria sphacelata), corn and Bana grass. Farmers earn good income from growing grass. Uptil now, the total gross benefit in 4 year (2002-2005) are 250 million baht, as shown in Table 1.

Table 1 Paddy Pasture production in 2002- 2005

 

2002

2003

2004

2005*

Total

Provinces

32

32

33

43

-

Farmer Group, no.

200

200

213

221

-

Farmers no.

6,342

6,451

6,517

6,607

-

Area Planted, rai

20,138

21,580

19,768

21,345

-

Fodder Production, ton

5,959

48,465

65,496

39,769

159,689

Gross Benefit, MillionBaht/year

13.01

109.69

66.06

60.97

249.73

*from January- August 2005

In Yasothorn Province in the Northeast of Thailand, instead of selling fruit or roasted chicken along the road side as usually seen, farmers can generate income from selling both fresh Guinea grass for feeding cattle and buffaloes, and Guinea grass planting materials (root stocks and seed).

Picture 6. Farmers sell the fresh Guinea grass along the road side in Yasothorn province.