Nepal - part 2
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The concept of grassland development through the government sector began in the late nineteen-fifties with the establishment of cheese factories in the northern and mid-hills for processing the milk of yaks and chauries. A temperate cultivar evaluation cum forage production programme was launched at the Livestock Development Farm, Singh Durbar in 1953 by the Agronomy Division of Department of Agriculture. Perennial rye grass (Lolium perenne) was tested in mixture with white clover (Trifolium repens) during 1953 - 1959 (Basnet, 1963).In the late nineteen-sixties external assistance projects were initiated, such as FAO's Pasture, Fodder and Livestock Development Project which was implemented in Nuwakot and Rasuwa districts, when vegetation survey and small species evaluation trials began. A Pasture and Fodder Development Farm was established at Rasuwa in 1971 - 72 and a Pasture Development Project at Khumaltar in 1978. External assistance continued during the nineteen-eighties including USAID's Resource Conservation and Utilization Projects (RCUP) and Swiss funded forage improvement work in Dolakha and Sindhupalchowk (Basnet, 1995).

Political changes after 1959 between governments of Nepal and China, disrupted centuries - old transhumance. Negotiation between the governments on the closure of the rangelands for herds and flocks of both sides, led to the two governments enacting an agreement whereby passage of animals from both countries would be completely stopped by April 1988. Realizing the severe impact of this, the government of Nepal initiated the Northern Areas Pasture Development Programme ( NAPDP) in 1985 which focused on pasture management and fodder development in four " critical " districts ( Humla, Mustang, Sindhupalchowk and Dolakha), and six "emerging" forest and feed crisis districts (Manang, Dolpa, Gorkha, Mugu, Sankhuwasabha and Taplejung ).

In 1987, two very important projects started under FAO sponsorship in collaboration with Department of Livestock Services ( DLS ). The High Altitude Pasture Development Project (1987 - 1990) was extension supportive while the Himalayan and Fodder Research Network (1987 - 1990) supported research. These UNDP financed projects supported regular district level forage improvement programmes and tried to alleviate the fodder crisis created by the closure of grazing in the Tibetan pasturelands as well as restoring the degraded grassland. The interrelationship and interdependency among forests, grassland and animals (including wildlife) is very close in Nepal. Grasslands evolve as a stage in the degradation of forests; for some time, depending upon their carrying capacities, both become complementary to each other to supply feed resources to the habitats (Basnet, 1995).

Grassland types

The wide range of climate and altitudes has given rise to many grassland situations. The only thing common to all is livestock rearing which is an integral part of the agricultural system, since time immemorial and was enriched with the vast experience of migrant pastoral Aryans who initially settled in the North-Western parts of India and later spread to other parts (Singh, 1996). Rich grassland resources sustained the livestock very efficiently, but the gradual increase in human population and the subsequent increase in the livestock product demand created an imbalance.

Grasslands vary from subtropical at lower elevations, to alpine meadows on ridge tops in the mid-hills and high mountain valleys of the inner Himalayan range in the areas of Manang, Mustang, Dolpa and Mugu. Grasslands are mostly located in the hills and only 4-5 percent is in low areas (Table 31).

Table 31. Grassland areas by physiographic region

Physiographic Region

Total Land Area

Grazing Land Area

(000' ha)


(000' ha)


of Total Land

Grazing Land


2 122.00






1 879.00





Middle Hills

4 350.30





High Hills

2 900.20





High Himal

3 497.00






14 748.50


1 701.66



Source: LRMP (1986)

Tropical grasslands
This grassland type is found up to approximately 1 000 masl and covers areas of the Terai and dun valleys of southern Nepal. It is widespread throughout the Indian sub-continent in the Gangetic Plain and the Brahmaputra valley. In Nepal these grasslands had covered large areas of Terai and dun valleys, nowadays; almost all of this grassland has been converted to agricultural land. Tropical grasslands are Phragmites/ Saccharum / Imperata type and dominant grasses are Phragmites karka, Saccharum spontaneum and Imperata cylindrica (Whyte 1968). It also contains two metre tall Cymbopogon jwarancusa and Bothriochloa intermedia (Stainton, 1973). Because of human activity Imperata cylindrica dominates throughout these grasslands and the weed Eupatorium adenophorum is gradually replacing many of the palatable species. These grasslands are used by livestock under a sedentary system of management. Grass is also harvested for thatch and for the paper mills. Many of these grassland are burned annually in late winter.

Subtropical grassland
These are between approximately 1 000 – 2 000 metres in Siwaliks, Mahabharat range, lower valleys and mountain slopes in the lower Mid-hills. Much of the original subtropical grasslands have been converted to agricultural land or are heavily grazed and in poor condition due to overgrazing. Sub-tropical grasslands are mostly associated with Pinus roxburghii forests. They are infested with Eupatorium adenophorum (banmara), Pteridium acquilinum (bracken fern), and Urtica parviflora (stinging nettle) and Artemisia vulgaris. These grasslands are a Themeda-Arundinella type. Naturally growing forage species are reported by various authors based on the site and time period and stages of plants (Table 32). The main forages are: Arundinella bengalensis, A. nepalensis, Bothriochloa intermedia, B. pertusa, Chrysopogon gryllus, Cynodon dactylon, Heteropogon contortus, Apluda mutica, Brachiaria decumbens, Imperata cylindrica and Eragrostis pilosa. Grass is also harvested for thatch and for the paper mills. They are regularly burned in the spring. These grasslands are badly grazed, and in poor condition. The belt between 1 800 - 2 100 m is a transition zone between the subtropical and temperate grass genera with species from both zones.

Temperate grasslands
Temperate grasslands extend from 2 000 to 3 000 m. Subtropical forage species are found up to 2 500 m, but above that level temperate species dominate associated with oak or mixed broad leaf, Quercus or blue-pine Pinus excelsa forests types. These grasslands are very important to pastoral systems and due to heavy grazing for years, less palatable forage species dominated by Arundinella hookeri predominate. In many areas, Andropogon tristis has been replaced by Arundinella hookeri. Common species are: Arundinella hookeri, Andropogon tristis, Poa spp., Chrysopogon gryllus, Dactylis glomerata, Stipa concinna, Festuca spp., Cymbopogon spp., Bothriochloa spp., Desmodium spp. and Agrostis micrantha. This grassland can be classified into types: (i) warm temperate grassland (ii) cool temperate grassland.

(i) Warm temperate grasslands
These, which are found in the upper mid-hills from 1 410 to 2 450 metres, are the result of biotic and edaphic effects similar to sub-tropical grasslands. Sub-tropical grasses still dominate up to 2 500 m: species of Andropogon, Chrysopogon, Dichanthium, Imperata, Heteropogon, Ischaemum, Setaria, Themeda are commonest; legumes are rare. Eupatorium adenophorum and fern infestation is fast increasing and is replacing palatable plants. In both sub- tropical and warm temperate grassland, there is heavy stocking of cattle, buffalo and goats which give very little chance for herbage regrowth and regeneration. In some places these grasslands have become no more than loitering places for large ruminants.

(ii) Cool temperate grassland
Cool temperate grasslands are spread throughout the upper mid-hills from 2 450 to 3 050 m. Grass composition is better and legumes, mainly medics, are widespread. In places, pseudo – meadows are prevalent. Poa annua, Poa alpigena, Phleum alpinum, Arundinella hookeri, and Festuca types, together with some sub- tropical species are the common grasses. Burning of grazing land is common. Large ruminants graze there most of the time as part of the transhumance system. Sheep and goats graze on the way to alpine grasslands and back. In temperate grasslands that have been heavily grazed, common shrubs are of the genera Artemisia, Berberis, Rosa, Caragana, and Lonicera.

Subalpine grasslands
Sub-alpine rangelands are associated mostly with shrubs; common genera are: Berberis, Caragana, Hippophae, Juniperus, Lonicera, Potentilla, Rosa, Spiraea. In many areas, the shrub Pipthantus nepalensis has invaded once productive grassland dominated by Danthonia spp. Depending on site, altitude, aspect and time of collection of plants, the common natural grasses are: Elymus spp., Festuca spp. Stipa, Bromus himalaiacus, Chrysopogon gryllus and Cymbopogon schoeanthus; Koeleria is a species of great importance to pastoral systems at high elevation. Forbs of the genera Anaphalis distorta and Potentilla become more common as Danthonia is removed from the grassland (Miller 1987).These grasslands, at elevations of 3 000 – 4 000 m, are of critical importance to livestock production especially for the large herds of yaks and flocks of sheep which depend on this grazing for much of the year. Sub-alpine grasslands have a grazing period of 5 - 8 months owing to snow in winter. Transhumant herds of cattle and buffaloes use these lands in summer.

Alpine grasslands
Alpine grasslands are associated with Rhododendron shrubs. Different workers have evaluated the main types of vegetation based on the specification of areas, such as Kobresia type, Costia depressa type, and Carex –Agrostis-Poa type. Naturally found common plants are Kobresia spp., Agrostis spp. etc. These grasslands extend from 4 000-5 000 m and are the primary summer grazing (June to September) lands for yaks and nomadic sheep and goats. Many of the plants of sub-alpine grassland are also found in the lower elevations of the alpine zone. Since 1968 various workers have collected and reported the vegetation resources of these various types of grassland. Details are given in Table 32.

Table 32. Plants of different grasslands

Grassland types

Plant species composition



Perennial grasses:- Arthraxon hispidis, Arundinella nepalensis, Bothriochloa intermedia, Bothriochloa odorata, Cymbopogon jwarancusa, Chrysopogon aciculatus, Cynodon dactylon, Cymbopogon pendulus. Desmostachya bipinnata, Digitaria longissima, Eragrostis nigra, Eragrostis. atrovirens, Eragrostiella nardoides, Hymenachne pseudointerrupta, Heteropogon contortus, Imperata cylindrica, Ischaemum timorense, Narenga porphyrocoma, Neyraudia reynaudiana, Phragmites karka, Panicum notatum, Paspalum conjugagatum, Paspalidium flavidum, Paspalum scrobiculatum, Pogonatherum paniceum, Saccharum, spontaneum, Saccharum arundinaceum, Sclerostachys fusca, Setaria spp., Sporobolus indicus, Vetiveria zizaniodes.

Annual grasses:- Brachiaria villosa, Eragrostis unioloides, Eragrostis pilosa, Hackelochloa granularis, Sacciolepis indica, Setaria pallide- fusca,

Perennial forbs:- Artemisia vulgaris, Cissus repens, Cyperus spp., Desmodium heterocarpa, Ranunculus microphyllus, Tridax procumbens

Annual forbs:- Ageratum conyzoides, Rotala indica

Whyte (1968)
Field and Pandey (1968)
Pariyar and Shrestha (1992)


Perennial grasses:- Arundinella bengalensis, Arundinella nepalensis, Apluda mutica, Arundinella setosa, Apocopis paleacea, Arthraxon hispidis, Agrostis pilosa, Artemisia vulgaris, Andropogon contortus, Andropogon humilis, Brachiaria decumbens, Brachiaria villosa, Bothriochloa intermedia, Bothriochloa pertusa, Capillipedium assimile, Capillipedium parviflorum, Cymbopogon jwarancusa, Chrysopogon aciculatus, Chrysopogon fulvus, Chrysopogon gryllus,Cynodon dactylon, Cymbopogon stracheyi, Cymbopogon pendulus, Cheilanthes grisea, Digitaria longiflora, Eragrostis nigra, Eragrostis. atrovirens, Eragrostiella nardoides, Eulaliopsis binata, Eulalia mollis, Heteropogon contortus, Imperata cylindrica, Ischaemum timorense, Isachne globosa Eleusine indica, Justicia procumbens, Phragmites karka, Paspalum dilitatum, Paspalidium flavidum, Paspalum scrobiculatum, Perotis hordeiformis Pogonatherum paniceum, Saccharum spontaneum, Sclerostachys fusca., Sporobolus fertilis,

Annual grasses:- Digitaria setigera, Dimeria fuscescens, Brachiaria villosa, Eragrostis unioloides, Eragrostis pilosa, Eragrostiella leioptera, Eleusine indica, Ischaemum baratum, Sacciolepis indica, Setaria pallide- fusca, Schizachyrium brevifolium.

Perennial shrubs:- Eupatorium adenophorum, thysanolaena latifolia

Perennial forbs:- Carex spp., Campanula colorata, Cynogolossum zeylanicum, Cyperus rotundus, Cyperus spp., Desmodium heterocarpa, Desmodium microphyllus, Dryopteris filix-mas, Elephantopus scaber, Gonostegia hirta, Micromeria biflora, Phyllanthus parvifolius

Annual forbs:- Sida rhombifolia, Laggera alata, Rotala indica.

Whyte (1968)
Miller (1987)
Field and Pandey (1968)
Pariyar and Shrestha (1992)


Perennial grasses:- Arundinella hookeri, Arundinella spp., Arundinella nepalensis, A. setosa, Andropogon tristis, Agrostis micrantha, Agrostis canina, Agropyron canaliculatum, Agropyron semicostatum, Agrostis filipes, Agrostis munroana, Agrostis myriantha, Agrostis pilosa, Apluda mutica, Apocopis paleacea, Arthraxon hispidis, Brachypodium sylvaticum, Bromus ramosus, Bothriochloa bladhii, Bothriochloa spp., Chrysopogon gryllus, Cymbopogon spp., Cymbopogon distans, Calamagrostis epigejos, Calamagrostis pseudophragmites, Calamagrostis emodensis, Cymbopogon schoenanthus, Cymbopogon pendulus, Capillipedium assimile,. Dactylis glomerata, Danthonia jacquemontii, Deschampsia caespitosa, Deyeuxia scabrescens, Digitaria longissima, Erianthus longisetosus, Eragrostis nigra, Elymus caninus, Eulalia mollis, Eulaliopsis binata,. Eragrostis pilosa, Festuca spp., Festuca gigantea, Festuca kashmiriana, Festuca ovina, Festuca rubra, Festuca lucida, Festuca valesiaca, Glyceria tonglensis, Helictotrichon pratense, Helictotrichon virescens, Helictotrichon asperum, Imperata cylindrica, Koeleria cristata, Muhlenbergia duthieana, Muhlenbergia huegelii, Muhlenbergia spp., Miscanthus nepalensis, Oryzopsis aequiglumis, Orinus hardii, Oryzopsis lateralis, Poa pratensis, Poa angustifolia, Poa pagophila, Poa spp., Phleum alpinum, Poa alpina, Pogonatherum crinitum, Pennisetum flaccidum, Stipa concinna, Schizachyrium delavayi, Trisetum micans, Trisetum spicatum, Themeda quadrivalis, Themeda anathera, Themeda triandra,

Annual grasses: Hackelochloa granularis, Poa annua, Setaria pallide-fusca,

Perennial forbs:- Anaphalis triplinervis, Artemisia spp., Berberis spp. Colquhounia coceinea, Cotoneaster spp., Desmodium spp., Pteridium acquilinum, Rosa spp.,

Whyte (1968)
Miller (1987)
Field and Pandey (1968)
Archer (1989)


Perennial grasses:- Agrostis inaequiglumis, Agrostis pilosa, Anthoxanthum hookerii, Bromus himalaiacus, Bromus grandis, Calamagrostis emodensis, Calamagrostis pulchella, Chrysopogon gryllus, Cymbopogon schoeanthus, Danthonia schneideri, Duthiea nepalensis, Deyeuxia spp., Elymus conaliculatus, Elymus dahuricus, Elymus nutans, Elymus schrenkianus, Elymus dahuricus, Elymus spicatum, Festuca comminsii, Festuca leptopogon, Festuca ovina, Helictotrichon virescens, Koeleria cristata, Poa lugens, Poa spp., Pennisetum flaccidum, Stipa concinna, Stipa duthiea, Stipa koelzii, Stipa regeliana, Stipa sibirica, Trikeria oreophilia, Trisetum spicatum,

Perennial forbs:- Artemisia spp., Desmodium spp., Stellera chamaejasme, Trigonella spp.

Miller (1987)
Archer (1989)


Perennial grasses:- Agrostis spp., Poa spp.

Perennial forbs:- Aster stracheyi, Androsace esimani, Cyperus spp., Carex spp., Cortia depressa, Geranium donainum, Kobresia hookeri,, Kobresia nepalensis, Kobresia spp., Picrorrhiza scrophulariflora, Polygonum viviparum Potentilla peduncularis, Rheum moorcroftianum, Swertia multicanlis, Saussurea gossypiphosa, Nardostachys jatamansi.

Miller (1987)


Perennial grasses:- Andropogon tristis, Aristida spp., Arthraxon spp., Aristida adscensionis, Arundinella setosa, Agrostis pilosa, Bothriochloa intermedia, Bromus himalnaincus, Bromus grandis, Cymbopogon stracheyi, Calamagrostis spp., Cymbopogon schoeanthusi, Chrysopogon gryllus, Calamagrostis pseudophragmites, Calamagrostis spp., Deyeuxia holciforumis, Deyeuxia pulchella, Danthonia cachemyriana, Deyeuxia scabrescens, Danthonia spp., Elymus canaliculatus, Elymus schrenkianus, Elymus dahuricus, Eulalia mollis,, Elymus semicostatus, Festuca ovina, Festuca spp., Helictotrichon virescens, Koeleria cristala, Melica scabessima, Melica jacquemontii, Oryzopsis lateralis, Orinus thoroldii, Poa poophagorum, Poa paqophila, Poa alpigena, Pennisetum flaccidum, Poa spp., Stipa capensis, Stipa bungeana, Themeda triandra, Themeda anathera, Trisetum spp.

Perennial legume :-Medicago falcata

Perennial forbs:- Berberis spp., Caragana brevifolia, Cerastostigma spp., Cyperacae., Carex spp., Juniperus squamata, Indigofera spp., Kobresia spp., Lonicera spinosa, Lespedeza spp., Potentilla fructicosa, Rhododendron anthopogon, Rhododendron lepitodium, Rhododendron nivale, Rosa sericea, Sophora spp., Scirpus spp.,

Miller (1987)
Archer (1989)

Grassland productivity and carrying capacity

Due to extremes in climate, poor management and constant grazing, all type of grassland have degraded to an alarming stage. These lands are found to be less productive than well managed grasslands; still, they are an integral part of various animal rearing systems. Estimated forage production of natural high altitude grazing lands varies from place to place. The dry matter biomass production (t/ha) from various sites amount to 0.65 (Dolpa), 1.53 (Mustang), 2.36 (Sindhupalchowk and Dolakha), 3.2 (Tuten), 3.6 (Terhathum), 0.79 (Dhading) and 1.5 (Myagdi). It has been estimated that the tropical grassland has produced 3-4 ton while the steppe grassland has produced 1-1.5 ton dry matter per ha per year (Table 33).

Table 33. Grassland Types and Productivity

Altitude - metres

Forest type

Grassland type

(DM Mt ha-1)

<1 000



3.0 - 4.0

1 000 –2 000

Schima - Castanopsis


1.5 - 2.0

2 000 – 3 000

Oak or mixed broad leaf, Quercus or blue pine


2.0 - 2.5

3 000 – 4 000

Fir / birch / Rhododendron

Sub - alpine

2.0 - 2.5

4 000 – 5 000

Rhododendron / juniper


2.0 - 2.5

2 450 – 5 000

Pinus excelsa


1.0 - 1.5

The carrying capacity of various grasslands, based on their production status is given in Table 34.

Table 34. Carrying capacity of different grasslands

Grassland type

Area (km2)

(TDN. t/ha)

Carrying capacity

Present stocking
rate (LU/ha)

Subtropical & Temperate

6 293





10 141





1 875




(Source : Miller, 1987, Rajbhandary, H. B., and S. G. Shah, 1981 )

Due to enormous grazing pressure, edible species have been replaced by noxious weeds. Tropical and sub-tropical grasslands have lost preferred species which are being replaced by undesirable Imperata cylindrica and Eupatorium adenophorum (weed), Cynodon dactylon, Digitaria cruciata, Eragrostis nigra, Paspalum dilitatum and Sporobolus fertilis. In temperate grassland Andropogon tristis is gradually replaced by Arundinella hookeri, and Danthonia schneideri replaced by Agrostis inaequiglumis and Agrostis pilosa in sub-alpine grassland. However, in steppe pasture in Mustang grasses such as Andropogon tristis, Pennisetum flaccidum and Stipa along with Medicago sativa spp. falcata are found in better managed areas but almost 70 - 80 % of the grasslands are now covered with shrubs like Artemisia, Sophora, Lonicera, Ephedra and Caragana. Regeneration of these plant communities is very poor leading to low annual biomass production and severe environmental degradation. Tremendous soil losses from grassland are observed, ranging from 40- 200 ton ha -1 /year (CBS 1998). Degradation has taken place to such an extent that now many once productive grasslands are rated as wastelands.

Pasture and fodder crops

Early forage development work dates back to the nineteen-fifties, when improved temperate pasture species were introduced to the upper mid-hills and mountains. In the lower mid-hills, sub-tropical and tropical grasses were introduced. Winter in most of Nepal is dry and cold, so green fodder shortage is a serious problem.

Grass production on terrace risers is traditionally from indigenous species which have grown spontaneously. The timing of harvesting of these grasses depends on their growth stage, livestock needs, alternative fodder sources and labour availability. Farmers frequently use off-farm fodder before their privately-owned reserves, conserving close supplies for later and for use during the busy planting seasons when labour is short. In some areas preferred indigenous species such as Chrysopogon gryllus are propagated and planted on terrace edges (Elliott, 1996). Thysanolaena latifolia (photo) is another indigenous grass cultivated on terrace risers; its mature stems are used for broom making and the leaves are good quality fodder. Some exotic grasses have been used on terrace risers. Napier grass (Pennisetum purpureum) and Setaria (Setaria anceps) have been used in different parts of the hills. There has been greater adoption of Napier grass and Napier grass hybrid (NB-21) at lower altitudes while Napier mott and Napier dhus are planted in the upper mid-hills. The cultivation of improved grasses has been stimulated by the increased demand for milk and milk products.

Performance of a large number of summer forages has been evaluated at different locations for improved yield and availability over a longer period. In a broad range of locations, Napier grass was found to produce almost double the amount of green matter (GM) (30.5 t/ha) compared with native grasses (16.1 t/ha). From lower elevations to 1500 masl; molasses grass (Melinis minutiflora) was identified as the most promising grass to address the shortage of green fodder during the winter months. A comparison of six perennial summer forages conducted in Lumle command areas found that Seteria was the most productive species (50.1 kg GM/ha/day) followed by Napier grass (31.2 kg GM/ha/day) (LAC, 1987).

The cultivation of winter fodders on Bari and Khet land is gaining in popularity with most dairy farmers, in response to growing milk markets. Forage oats (Avena sativa) are grown from the terai to the high hills on land with sufficient moisture. Production from different cultivars of oats, grown at a range of locations, shows considerable variation from 28-54 ton/ha GM (Adhikari, 2005). Significant increases in milk production, ranging from 1-2 litres/day were achieved by feeding 10-15 kg of green oats daily to buffalo. Oats are by far the most important winter fodder throughout the country; the introduction of modern, multi-cut cultivars a decade ago has greatly increased their popularity and this may have been assisted by improved milk marketing. The area of fodder oats in Nepal is now in excess of 10 000 hectares annually. The development of the oat crop is described in detail by Pariyar (2004) [click here to view] and in a report by Pariyar [click here to view]. (Aspects of the oat programme are illustrated in Figure 7).

Figure 7. Aspects of the oat programme (Photos by S. Reynolds, J. Suttie and K. Armstrong)
[Click on thumbnails to view full photos]
Harvesting oats
Oats drying for hay, Dhading
Oat seed production
Oat harvesting in the Terai
Oat cultivar evaluation at Khumaltar
Oat cultivars under evaluation at
Dunche Agricultural Research Station
Farmers with recently harvested fodder oats
Buffalo being fed a mixture of chopped straw and green oats, Kavre
Small-bag silage (c. 6 kg) - 2 months old and ready to feed to livestock

Fodder oat improvement and extension has been the subject of an FAO assisted project in Nepal (TCP/NEP/2901) which has been the focus of fodder activity throughout the Himalayan region; many new cultivars have been introduced; a workshop on fodder oats, and other fodders was held in Kathmandu in March 2005 and has been reported by Pariyar et al. (2005) [click here to view].

A variety of leguminous fodders have been introduced into Nepal, most notably vetches (from Australia) and species of Trifolium including white clover (from New Zealand and United Kingdom) and other species (from India). Three types of vetch are used, mainly for fodder, namely Vicia sativa (Common Vetch), V. bengalensis cv. Papani and V. dasycarpa cv. Nemoi. The highest dry matter yield is obtained with line sowing and fertilizer additions. Trials involving the use of 60 kg N and P/ha and line sowing at 30 cm distance produced on average, in 3-4 cuts, four times more green fodder than broadcasting (PTSMF, 1988/89). Shaftal clover (T. resupinatum) has shown promise in trials as a potential source of high quality green fodder and protein during the dry season (PTSMF, 1985/86). Again productivity was greatest with the addition of fertilizer (60 kg N and P/ha), irrigation and line sowing. Berseem (T. alexandrinum) is cultivated in the terai and warm temperate regions of the mid hills (HLFFDP, 1996). Phosphorous is one of the limiting factors in forage production for berseem. Under irrigated low land on-farm condition, in a rice-fallow-rice cropping system, the optimum level of fertilizer was identified as 60 : 120 : 0 kg/ha NPK (FSR, 1989/90; FSR 1991/92). An economic optimum level of 20 : 40 : 0 kg/ha NPK has been recommended in Pokhara (Pradhan and Silwal, 1989). As a relay crop, the recommendation in the terai is to sow berseem 4-6 weeks before harvesting the rice.

Tropical legumes have also been introduced in Nepal. Species such as Cassia rotundifolia cv. Wynn, Desmodium intortum cv. green leaf, D. uncinatum cv. silverleaf, Neonotonia wightii and Stylosanthes guianensis cv. Graham and joint-vetch, Aeschynomene americana, have all produced yields of green fodder ranging from 3.8 t/ha to 24.6 t/ha in eight cuts (Neopane and Shrestha, 1991). At altitudes below 1700 masl in leasehold forest land, fertilized stands of Stylosanthes guianensis cv. Cook have yielded as much as 33 t green fodder/ha. However, levels of production in the dry season are dependent on moisture availability.

Perennial fodders are less common than annuals but at high altitudes the indigenous yellow-flowered lucerne (Medicago sativa var. falcata) known as kote is traditionally grown for hay; Napier Grass (Pennisetum purpureum) is often grown around holdings on field edges and other spare ground. Annual fodders are common. Summer fodders are mainly coarse annual grasses, notably jowar (Sorghum bicolor) and teosinte (Zea mays L. subsp. mexicana).

The productivity of natural pastures depends on many factors, and varies greatly within and between years from one area or region to another in the same agro-ecological zone. Productivity of native grassland ranges from 0.5-1 ton DM/ha in the steppes; 2-2.5 ton DM/ha in alpine, sub-alpine and temperate areas and 3-4 ton DM/ha in tropical regions. Estimates of the carrying capacity of different grasslands have been made using these values, and are lower than current actual stocking rates. For example, a grassland dominated by Heteropogon contortus, Eragrostis pilosa, Imperata cylindrica and Pogonatherum paniceum in Bhumisthan VDC is estimated to have a carrying capacity of 0.31 LU/ha, whereas the current actual stocking rate is 4.08 LU/ha (Pariyar and Shrestha, 1992).

Fodder trees and shrub fodder

Foliage from trees and shrubs is used widely during the dry winter in smallholder farming systems, specifically in the mid-hills. Trees and shrubs are often the only source of green material of relatively high protein content used by sedentary farmers to supplement low protein diets based on crop residues. Their contribution varies with the agro-ecological zone but, in the mid-hills, this ranges from 8-60% of total fodder supply depending on management. The importance of trees and shrubs as a feed resource has encouraged research workers to identify those species in use and develop feeding systems that will improve the contribution of these plants to the livelihood of smallholder farmers. Well over 200 species have been identified to date in the different agro-ecological zones (Shrestha and Pradhan, 1995). Results of feeding trials have been encouraging (Shrestha and Pakhrin, 1989), but uptake by farmers has not been consistent (Joshi and Thapa, 1992) for a variety of reasons. Part of the problem is that the complexities associated with the use of tree fodder in real farming situations have not always been considered adequately during the planning and execution of research work. These do not permit the straightforward introduction of new species into a diverse and fluctuating feed resource base. Furthermore, the multiple objectives that farmers must balance in planning all of their agricultural activities not only limits the acceptability of tree species, but may also lead them to specify desirable characteristics that emphasis gut fill rather than nutritive value.

Common fodder tree species on farm holdings have yielded from 20 - 86 kg fresh leaves and twigs/tree/year, with a dry matter content of between 100 and 600 g/kg (Malla and Fisher, 1997). In this study, Gogan (Sauraria nepalensis) and Nebharo (Ficus roxburghii) were amongst the highest yielding species. Pandey (1975) reported an average yield of 70 kg/tree/year from 24 species. It is suggested that an average tree may be expected to produce between 50 and 90 kg of fodder in a year, but the highest yielders such as Ficus lacor may produce as much as 150 kg/year. In F. auriculata, yield increased with age. At four years of age trees yielded a total of 25 kg fodder/tree compared to 210 kg fodder/tree and 145 kg/tree fuel wood at 25 years of age. Some 40 kg of green leaf could be harvested daily through the scarce period of October to May; enough to meet the nutritional requirements of a lactating buffalo. It should be noted that the estimates of fodder yields vary depending on the stage of growth and season of cut.

It is clear that fodder yields from trees are highly variable. Amatya and Lindley (1992) found that the coefficient of variation in yields from species such as Bauhinia purpurea, B. variegata, Ficus semicordata var. Montana, Guazuma ulmifolia and Ficus glaberrima ranged from 38.6 to 69.7%. The sources of this variation are diverse. It is reported that trees produce their full fodder-yielding capacity at between 5 and 10 years of age, depending on species. Other major factors influencing yields include climate, soil type, lopping regimes and other management practices and their interactions. Amatya and Lindley (1992), working at lower altitudes in the Terai, observed higher biomass production from Ficus semicordata  in March. On the other hand, F. glaberrima and Guazuma ulmifolia yielded most during November, and exhibited considerably lower leaf biomass yields during March. However, absolute yield is not the only factor determining the timing of lopping: many farmers postpone lopping of trees that retain foliage in a palatable form to the period March to May, as this is the period when fodder supplies are restricted.

Rapid tree growth is another important selection criterion for farmers. Growth data are not available for all fodder trees. However, Ficus species have been found to have a higher growth rate than Bauhinia purpurea and B. variegata. Other species, such as Grewia optiva, have high rates of survival and reach a height of about 0.5 m in one season. Some fodder trees are planted, notably Leucaena leucocephala, often as hedges or on waste areas.


Factors like terrain, scanty vegetation cover, moisture stress, erratic rainfall, extremes of climate, poor land, low soil fertility, short growing period, rain shadow, constant neglect and an ever increasing animal and human population have almost destroyed the grasslands. Revegetating depleted grasslands without correcting the management errors which led to their degradation can aggravate the fragility and this valuable and enormous ecosystem is likely to be lost forever. Proper management and an integrated approach can convert the degraded grassland into a potential source of herbage production (Basnet, 1995, Singh, 1996). Since grazing by animals and livestock production are interlinked, grasslands cannot be considered in isolation. Depending upon the animal management system despite scarcity of feed from grazing, considerable forage / feed resources are available through cultivated fodder, crop residues and concentrates. Where livestock depend entirely on grazing (migratory system) in well defined grasslands only, forage availability is not so encouraging. However, the importance of grassland cannot be underestimated in a country where it contributes 36 % of the total feed.

The use of the grassland is seasonal as the climate governs the growth. In the humid temperate hills grass only grows in summer when temperature is high and monsoon rain and high radiation regimes result in rapid pasture growth. In the arid steppe, grass growth is much less and lack of moisture and low temperatures are major constraints. Issues and constraints related to grassland ecosystem are so diverse that the answers to them are not so simple despite their greater capabilities and bigger potential impacts.

The sustainability of fragile grasslands involves issues such as the need to restore soil fertility, encourage regrowth of medicinal herbs and grasses, restore sound ecosystems, provide gainful employment to farmers and improve the overall environment to make it as productive and beautiful as is depicted a century ago. Problems of annual burning, overgrazing, thus destroying valuable plant resources can be dealt with if the policy, management, institutional, technical and socio-economic issues at three sectorial levels - private, community and public - can be overcome. Specific policy for grassland, livestock and wildlife production and conservation has to be formulated giving this complex sector a high priority in all agro-ecological zones. The options for proper programme preparation are presented in Table 35.

Table 35. Analysis of issues and options for range resource development and management




Current status

Current status

Highly degraded with very poor quality of livestock in large numbers.

Improving skills, improving livestock, improving vegetation

Poor land allocation

Proper land allocation.

Improvement / Development

Improvement / Development

Poor education and knowledge. 

Academic opportunities. 

Poor economy / resources availability.

Reduce number of livestock, develop appropriate feed resources as per need.

Considered a poor economic activity.

Income generation through resource based animal production system.



Poor knowledge, lack of management technology

Improve livestock production efficiency by rotation, top feed and supplementation, Limit to carrying capacity.

Poor market support

Decision support for marketing risk minimization.




Current Status

Current Status

Highly degraded, no one's property and excessively used

Strict grazing and use systems, managing lean period, forage supplies and develop fodder banks.

Improvement / Development

Improvement / Development

Lack of awareness, lack of leadership and poor community organization.

Organization of cooperatives and participatory development approach.



Lack of leadership/ Community organization.

Lack of priority setting

Lack of marketing 

Organization of cooperatives and participatory development approach.

Watershed-based holistic planning of natural resources

Decision support for marketing risk minimization.




Current Status

Current Status


Lack of focus by administration / policy makers. 

Though they are aware but are unable to take off for such a gigantic task

Improvement/ Development

Improvement/ Development

Poor resources

Lack of policy (Fragmented - on agriculture, forestry and environment ).

Ignorance of indigenous knowledge of local pastoralist/ herders while formulating developing plans.

Development plan lack co-ordination between required institutions. 

 Insufficient generation of location specific technologies. 

General development plan for diversified ethnic groups, Ignorance of cultural and religious habitats.

Lack of funds

Lack of motivation 

Treat the area as watershed and then develop area by reseeding / protecting with grasses, legumes, plant trees.

Strategic frame - work incorporating all the related sectors. 

Integrated research development extension and training approach - farmer, researcher and extensionists together. 

Multi - institutional co-ordinated approach along with donor cum locally available NGO participation.

Affordable sustainable and simple technology generation. 

Specific development plan are in need for varies rearing systems and wildlife preservation.

INGO / NGO involvement compulsory

Special allowance for working staff.



Lack of trained manpower, funds and low priority

Optimum internal and external assistance.




Research and development institutions and personnel

Key technical support

Current research and development priorities

Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC)

Dinesh Pariyar

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Conducts research on pasture/fodder and agro-forestry through its satellite centres in all agro-ecozones.

Range management, On-farm fodder production, Degraded land improvement, Soil fertility improvement and house hold income generation.

Department of Livestock Services(DLS)

Nathu Prasad Chaudhary

Conducts extension activities on various sectors of pasture/fodder and agro-forestry through its district level offices in all agro-ecozones.

Milk production, meat production, egg and wool production. Certified seed of forage species. Dissemination of technologies generated by NARC.

Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science.

Dr. N. R. Devkota

Conducts research on various sectors of pasture/fodder and agro-forestry to produce M.Sc and PhD students and Post Graduates.

To develop the manpower for research and extension purposes.

Farmers Cooperatives and Groups

Participate in research and development activities at farm level and verifies the findings at farm level.

Help in scaling up production activities.

Contact persons

Name and address

Dinesh Pariyar, Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC)

N. P. Chaudhary, Department of Livestock Services (DLS)

Kishor Kumar Shrestha, Agriculture Research Station (Pasture) Dunche, Rasuwa

Dr. Nab Raja Devkota, Institute of Agriculture & Animal Science, Ramput, Chitwan

Dr. C. R. Upreti, Animal Nutrition Division, Khumaltar

Dr. Subarna Man Pradhan, Animal Production Specialist

Nhuche Lal Tamrakar, Chief, Agriculture Research Station (Goat), Bandipur

Dina Nath Tiwari, Regional Agricultural Research Station, Nepalgunj

Pulkit Mandal, Regional Agricultural Research Station, Tarahara

Ishori Prasad Acharya,Regional Agricultural Research Station, Lumle

Subhash Shrestha, Regional Agricultural Research Station, Pakhribas

Y. K. Shrestha, Agriculture Research Station (Sheep), Jumla

M. K. Shrestha, Pasture and Fodder Seed Farm, Ranjitpur

S. Yadav, Pasture and Fodder Seed production Farm, Janakpur

Dala Ram Pradhan, Director General, DLS

Dr. Laxman Sherchan, Project Manager, CLDP

R. P. Upreti, Outreach Research Division, Khumaltar

Dr. Jwala Bajracharya, Seed Laboratory, NARC, Khumaltar

G. P. Koirala, Agronomy Division, Khumaltar

Dr. S. L. Joshi, Entomology Division, Khumaltar

Tej Kumar Lama, Plant Pathology Division, Khumaltar

Dr. D. P. Sherchan, Soil Science Division, Khumaltar


Adhikari, K.,2005. Report on Statistical Analysis of Project Activities.Capacity building for fodder oat technologies in Nepal. Second report (TCP/NEP/2901 (A) April, 2005, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Amatya, S.M. & D.K. Lindley. 1992. Sample size estimation for fodder biomass yields in Nepal. Banko Janakari, 3 (3): 20-23.

Archer, A. C. 1989. Himalayan Pasture and Fodder Research Network. RAS/ 79/121 Consultant's Report. Kathmandu, Nepal.

Basnet, N. B. 1963. Plan and Accomplishments: Agronomy. Proceedings of the First Agriculture Conference, Nepal.109-113.May 17-24,Min Bhawan, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Basnet, N. B. 1995. Background paper on present state of Environment with respect to Rangeland Sustainability -NEPPAP II.

CBS, 1998. A compendium on environmental statistics 1998. Central Bureau of Statistics. Nepal. Kathmandu.

DLS, 2001/02. Annual Progress Report. National Pasture and Animal Nutrition Center, Department of Livestock Services. Harihar Bhawan, Lalitpur, Nepal.

Elliott, J., 1996. A Study of Farmers' Fodder Management Practices in the mid-hills of Nepal. A Preliminary Report of a Collaborative Research between NAF and Forest Research and Survey Centre. Kathmandu, Nepal. Forest Research and Survey Centre.

FSR ,1989/90. Farming systems research site, Kotjhari, Nepal. Annual Report.

FSR ,1991/92. Farming systems research site, Kotjhari, Nepal. Annual Report.

Field, D. J. & K. R. Pandey. 1968, Survey and Demonstration for the Management and Development of the Trishuli Watershed. FAO / UNDP Project Report No. 3.

Hardin, G. 1968 . The Tragedy of the Commons. Science , 162: 1243 – 1248.

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Joshi, L. & Thapa, B. 1992. Promoting private tree planting in the eastern hills of Nepal. PAC Technical Paper, 150. Pakhribas Agricultural Centre, Kathmandu, Nepal.

LAC , 1987. Prabidhi Sangalo, Vol 3 (3).

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Malla, Y.B. & R.J. Fisher. 1997. Planting trees on private farm-Land in Nepal: the equity aspect. Paper presented at a workshop on Multipurpose Trees for Small Farm Use, Pattaya, Thailand, 1-5 November, 1987.

Miller, D. J. 1987. Yaks and Grasses: Pastoralism in the Himalayan countries of Nepal and Bhutan and Strategies for Sustained Development, University of Montana USA.

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Morrison, J. 1998. Constraints in fodder and pasture interventions for high altitude pastoral systems. Pages 4-5 in Proceedings of the Third Meeting of the Temperate Asia Pasture and Fodder Network, Pokhara, Nepal.

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Neopane, S.P. & N.P. Shrestha. 1991. Proceedings of first national animal science convention. Held in Kathmandu, January 14-15, 1991, Nepal Animal Science Association (NASA), Kathmandu, Nepal.

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For further information on forages in Nepal contact:  
Mr. Dinesh Pariyar,
Livestock and Fisheries Research
Nepal Agricultural Research Council
Singh Burbar Plaza
Kathmandu, Nepal.
E-mail: <>
FAX Number: 977-01-4262500
P.O. Box Number 5459, Kathmandu, Nepal

Dinesh Pariyar

Dinesh Pariyar joined government in 1975 and is still serving after 30 years. He was National Research Coordinator of the Hills Leasehold Forestry and Forage Development Project (GCP/NEP/049/NET) and generated 10 technologies which were adopted by development agencies. This was the first time that technological packages were developed for degraded land and they increased forage production by 33 times and reduced erosion by raising vegetation coverage of the land to 70%. He has developed fodder research and improved seed availability so that over 110 cultivars of oat, 4 cultivars of dual purpose maize, 10 cultivars of Stylo including anthracnose resistant ones and over 50 other types of forage germplasm are available. Through TCP/NEP/2901, he managed to increase the household income of dairy farmers through the introduction of proper oat cultivars and small-bag silage technology using a farmer participatory approach. He is National Coordinator for FAO's Temperate Asia Pasture and Fodder Network. In 2008 he was made Director of Livestock and Fisheries Research in NARC. Mr. Pariyar has published many research and extension papers and has represented Nepal at meetings in several countries in the field of pasture, fodder and agroforestry.

Periodic updating of the profile will be undertaken by the author.

[The original profile was prepared by Dinesh Pariyar in 1998 when editing was done by Max Shelton; a revised profile was prepared by Dinesh Pariyar in September/October 2005 and the profile was edited by J.M Suttie and S.G. Reynolds in October - December 2005. Some livestock data were updated by S.G. Reynolds in November 2006 and personal information about the author in December 2008].