In the Himalayan mountains of India, feeding livestock during the cold months of winter is a major challenge for rural communities. Typically, village women collect green fodder from surrounding forests to feed their animals. But in peak winter months, there is not much greenery to be found.

Scientists have found a solution to promote green fodder production in the lean months of December and January through a ‘dual-purpose’ barley variety.

The innovation in barley allows two harvests for one crop sowing. Farmers can produce green fodder by cutting the crop within 70-75 days of sowing the seeds in the hills. After the cut, the crop is left to regenerate and harvested at full maturity in late May or June for grain and dry straw, used for both human consumption and animal feed. The cutting for fodder does not affect the final grain yield.

The barley variety, ‘BHS 380’, released from ICARDA germplasm with national partners in India, optimally combines traits of faster initial growth with higher biomass and better regeneration after cutting/grazing.

For best results, the appropriate stage for first cut must be optimized. If the cut is delayed, farmers may get even higher biomass as green fodder, but the regeneration may be poor and affect the grain yield.

The successful implementation of dual-purpose barley was made possible through ICARDA’s research partnership with CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish and the Tata Trust-funded ‘Enhancing livelihoods through livestock knowledge systems’ project.

Source: ICARDA dryWIRE