Development of Berseem clover village-based forage seed enterprises (VBFSEs) for the profitability and sustainability of the smallholder farmers of Pakistan in mixed farming systems

Muhammad Tufail

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

Livestock productivity in Pakistan is very low, restricted by the lack of quality
forage which is primarily because of the unavailability of quality seed and lack of
awareness of forage and seed production at the farm level. Berseem clover
(Trifolium alexandrinum L.) is the most widely grown winter forage legume across Pakistan, providing more than 50% of the country’s annual green forage. More than Rs. 300 million (US$ 3.1m) is spent annually on the importation of Berseem clover seed to support this production. The demand for Berseem clover seed has increased substantially in recent years as dairy farmers have become aware that they will achieve greater profits by increasing the proportion of good quality green feed used and consequently reducing the use of concentrates.

The main reasons for the low Berseem clover forage production are: reliance on
indigenous low-yielding varieties; non-availability of quality seed; the nonadoption of improved technologies such as seed inoculation, imbalanced use of nutrients and poor forage and seed harvesting management; poor pollination; and lack of seed production mechanisms at the village level. The formal seed supply system is insufficient to meet the domestic requirements for forage seed and there is a need to fulfil the seed shortage gap.

A baseline survey involving smallholder farmers in the Kasur and Okara districts
of the province of Punjab, Pakistan was undertaken to determine the level of
technical awareness and farmers’ understanding of growing Berseem clover for
forage and seed production and to gauge their interest in establishing village-based forage seed enterprises (VBFSEs) to promote the adoption of improve production technologies and forage varieties as well as the supply of improved variety Berseem clover seed. In addition, a number of variety and harvest field experiments were undertaken either at the University Research Station and/or involving the participation of local farmers through farmer participatory research approach to determine appropriate varieties and agronomic practices to maximise Berseem clover forage and seed production. An economic analysis of the implementing VBFSEs was also completed.

Baseline information (obtained from the survey) of the study area and the farmers’ practices of growing Berseem clover for forage and seed production clearly showed seed shortage and lack of production technology; however, many farmers were willing to be actively involved in on-farm research, producing Berseem clover seed on their own farms for the development of forage seed enterprises. The field experiments were conducted to address the causes of low productivity by introducing improved variety seed, seed inoculation and inclusion of honeybees to enhance Berseem clover seed production. The results of varietal selection and evaluation at farmers’ fields showed significant increases in forage dry matter (DM, 46%) and seed (211%) yields of an improved variety of Berseem clover (Agaitti Berseem-2002) when compared to local farmer and market varieties. Inclusion of supplemental honeybees for pollination and seed inoculation with Rhizobium trifolii significantly increased average seed yields by 44% and 119%, respectively. Seed inoculation also enhanced green forage (26%) and DM (39%) yields, soil N content (45%) and forage quality (3% higher crude protein) of Berseem clover.

Overall, the pilot VBFSEs for Berseem clover proved to be successful and
economically viable small-scale forage seed enterprises, producing a significant
amount of high quality green forage (51 t/ha) and seed (946 kg/ha) and resulting in a net income of 512,340 Rs/ha (both forage and seed) with a 432% marginal rate of return. Establishment of VBFSEs was a means of linking research to the commercial sector (commercial seed production). These are seen as an alternative seed supply system to the formal sector to meet the local seed demand of Berseem clover in Pakistan.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Krebs, Gaye, Principal Supervisor
  • Wynn, Peter, Co-Supervisor
  • Piltz, John, Co-Supervisor
  • Southwell, Alison, Co-Supervisor
Award date01 Sep 2016
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publisher
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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