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Cultivation of Azolla for profitable livestock farming in

Dhalai district of Tripura - a success story


 Dr. Alak Chowdhury, SMS, Animal Sc. KVK, Dhalai

Profitable livestock farming depends largely on increasing production


without escalation in feeding cost. Azolla cultivation is a very good option that
makes livestock farming very profitable
by increasing production and reducing
feeding cost. Azolla is an aquatic fern. It
is very rich in proteins, essential amino
acids, vitamins (vitamin A, vitamin B12,
Beta Carotene), growth promoter
intermediaries and minerals like
calcium, phosphorous, potassium,
ferrous, copper, magnesium, zinc etc.
On a dry weight basis, Azolla consists of
25 – 35% protein, 10 – 15% mineral and
7 – 10% a combination of amino acids, Figure 1 – Azolla produced in KVK, Dhalai centre.
bio-active substances and bio-
polymers. Carbohydrate and oil content in Azolla is very low. It can be easily
digested by livestock, owing to its high protein and low lignin content.

In dairy cattle, Azolla feeding can increase both quantity and quality of
milk. It has been reported that
feeding 2-3 kg of Azolla along
with daily animal ration can
increase milk yield up to 20 %.
Azolla helps in increasing body
weight in animals and birds. It can
also improve egg quality in birds.
It can replace commercial feed and
saves money.

Figure 2 - Mr. Sukhendra Das, a cattle farmer of


Salema village, feeding fresh green Azolla with
ground rice husk at 1:1 ratio.
Azolla can be cultivated either in tank or paddy field and its cultivation
cost is almost negligible. It may also be
cultivated in pond. It is a very good
source of all round the year green fodder
supply to livestock. It grows rapidly at
the rate of 300 gm / sq. meter /day and
its yielding capacity is 1000 MT per
hectare.

Figure 3 - Cultivation of Azolla in tank.

Animal Science division of Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Dhalai has been


putting its utmost efforts to
introduce Azolla as livestock feed
and popularize Azolla cultivation in
Dhalai district of Tripura. One ‘20
meter x 2 meter’ Azolla plot has
been developed at KVK, Dhalai
centre for demonstration purpose
and also for distributing Azolla to
Figure 4 - Demonstration plot on Azolla cultivation at the farmers/beneficiaries.
KVK, Dhalai centre.

Six off-campus trainings on “Azolla cultivation, its feeding technique and


advantage of its feeding in livestock” have been conducted by Animal Science
division of KVK, Dhalai at
different villages of Salema and
Ambassa block of Dhalai district
and total 230 nos. of livestock
farmers have been given training.
Till date 800 kg Azolla has been
distributed to 300 nos. of farmers
from Azolla plot of KVK, Dhalai
centre for cultivating in their own
Figure 5 - Off-campus training on "Azolla cultivation and
plots or fields. its feeding technique in livestock” at ICDS centre, Salema
organized by Animal Science Division of KVK, Dhalai.
Five On Farm Trials (OFTs) on Azolla cultivation as feed for dairy cattle
were done in the farmers’ plots at Salema
village. KVK, Dhalai has been receiving good
responses from farmers about Azolla and its
demand among farmers is increasing gradually.

Figure 6 - OFT on ‘Azolla cultivation as feed supplement to


dairy cattle’ going on in farmer's field.

Figure 7 - Demonstration on Azolla cultivation in farmers field; Farmer Bidhan Datta of 2 no. Kalachari,
Kamalpur is cultivating Azolla in his 3 large sized tanks and feeding his cattle daily with Azolla with other
daily feeds.