These are arid to semi-arid zones in the rain-shadow of the Himalaya, and well north (Gilgit is 35°50N) with a marked cool season; all agriculture is irrigated. Habitations, orchards and fields are in valley bottoms and lower terraces (altitude range 1 200 - 2 500 m); farm size is tiny. The area has always imported cereals, and the main cropping emphasis is on fruit and nuts as cash crops, and fodder for domestic use. There is little or no grazing on the steep slopes of the towering mountains around the villages, only some thin Artemisia where there is accumulated sand on the foot-slopes. Alpine pasture is available after snow-melt on the high tops (May to September) and village flocks and herds migrate there while grazing is available, and descend as the snows start. There is no source of natural hay.
The traditional fodders of these areas are: (i) lucerne, based on an old degenerate and very winter-dormant ecotype from Xinjiang, is all for haymaking; (ii) shaftal (Trifolium resupinatum) is usually from unimproved seed from around Peshawar; it produces little or nothing in winter but has a great spring flush and produces three summer cuts, and liked because the young shoots are used as a table vegetable at a season when little else is available and because it makes good hay. It is mainly winter and spring green-feed, except at higher altitudes, where it is a summer crop; (iii) thinnings of very thickly sown maize; (iv) cutting green wheat in times of fodder scarcity; (v) planted trees and shrubs on field edges and marginal land which have adequate water (mulberry, willow and Elaeagnus), as their bark and leaves provide supplementary fodder in winter. Fallen tree leaves are saved as fodder (apricot and mulberry mainly), and all straws are very carefully stored.
Figure 58. Temperatures and precipitation in Gilgit, Pakistan
Great improvements have been brought about in the past five years: preliminary screening showed that several fodder varieties which were already in use in other parts of Pakistan were well suited to local conditions. Their adaptation to both local conditions and farm needs was further tested through on-farm experimentation, which was followed by demonstration. The main improvements have been:
- Replacing the local lucerne by a non-winter-dormant cultivar. This has allowed several more cuts in most of the area, with yield increases of the order of 200% - 300% attained with good husbandry.
- Introducing multi-cut oats to replace wheat as green fodder. They resist temperatures down to -16°C at the higher altitudes, and down at Gilgit and Chilas produce feed at a season when no other is available.
- Using berseem instead of shaftal. This gives one or two cuts in autumn and winter, as well as a big spring flush, and greatly outyielded local shaftal. However, the comparison is not entirely fair, since good berseem varieties were compared with unselected local shaftal.
- Introducing maize varieties with good "stay-green" characteristics so that stover quality is improved as well as grain yield.
- Introducing multi-cut sorghums as specialized fodders for the summer, along with more rational cultivation of maize as grain.
Uncontrolled grazing problem
When the herds and flocks come down from the mountains in autumn, traditionally all stubbles and fields are open to common grazing. This is very destructive for any fodders or other crops on the ground at that time. Stopping the destructive stubble grazing, which destroys fodders and early-sown crops, is an obvious way to increase overall feed availability. However, it requires community organization and decision-making, although some villages are already banning the practice and farmers are enclosing their fields. By the third year of the project's activities, 2 550 farmers were participating in activities and purchasing seed of the improved varieties (Dost, 1996). The varieties used are all commercially available from other parts of Pakistan and local general traders who supply traditional seed are being educated about the new varieties (including seed sources as well as crop performance and husbandry) and are encouraged to stock them.
 Drawn from Dost,