Pasture protection requires joint efforts

Pasture is the main source of cheap and nutritious fodder for livestock. Approximately fodder for three-quarters of livestock are provided as green fodder from natural pastures. In pastures, the livestock productivity increases by 25-40 percent compared to keeping in home, the quality of products improves and the cost price decreases by 20-30 percent. Good condition of pastures is important for the development of livestock sector and food security of the country as a whole.

According to the data, the total area of ​​pastures in the country is more than three million hectares. Pastures and their infrastructure (cattle tracks, resting places, watering points and bridges) are the main source of fodder for cattle, yaks, sheep, goats and horses, providing more than 70 percent of their annual needs.

According to livestock sphere experts, climate change and its negative impact in recent years has led to a decline in pasture productivity. This is especially the case with pastures near to populated areas. Furthermore, in most villages of the district there is a violation of grasslands and destruction of pastures. Most of areas have been turned into cattle tracks and as a result soil erosion has increased. Also, more than thousands of hectares of fertile lowland pastures were destroyed by plowing and became less productive as waste lands.

According to statistics, the number of cattle in the country has increased by 53 percent, horses by 49 percent, and small ruminant by 50 percent compared to the pre-independence years. Therefore, improvement of the situation, increase of productivity, rational and proper use of pastures are one of the key factors in the development of the sector. Prior to 1991, 30 percent of the country's arable lands were used for cultivation of fodder crops. At present, the area under fodder crops has been reduced almost threefold, and the number of livestock has increased by 50 percent.

In Khatlon region, winter pastures are more than 670 thousand hectares, summer pastures are 222 thousand hectares, spring and autumn pastures are about 208 thousand hectares, and year-round pastures are 129 thousand hectares. As part of the first and second phases of the Livestock and Pasture Development Project, more than 160,000 hectares of pastures in targeted villages have been improved.

The first phase of “Livestock and Pasture Development Project” has covered Temurmalik, Baljuvon, Khovaling, Muminobod and Shamsiddin Shohin districts, and the second phase is currently being implemented in Kulob, Dangara, Vose, Farkhor and Mir Said Alii Hamadoni districts.

It should be noted that pasture rotation plans have been developed in 400 Pasture User Unions established by the PMU. During the implementation of both phases of “Livestock and Pasture Development Project”, the PMU staff have conducted regular trainings, which include the following recommendations and consultations on improvement of pastures and their effective use:

-       efficient, targeted and collective use of pastures;

-       rational use and prevention of pasture degradation, observance of environmental protection;

-       introduction of pasture rotation system, timing and duration of grazing, norms and replacement of grazing terms and methods of their protection;

-       pasture rehabilitation, planting and introduction of pasture species;

-       application of mineral fertilizers in the amount of 100 kg per ha of pasture;

-       carrying out of regular actions for improvement of surface and general pastures;

-       implementation of preventive medical and veterinary activities;

-       regular work with other relevant agencies to improve the condition of pastures, their irrigation, level and comprehensive improvement with the involvement of domestic and foreign capital;

-       carrying out and expansion of research works on improvement of pasture condition, monitoring and assessment of pasture productivity and organization of demonstration plots;

-       organizing the planting of nutritious fodder plants on demonstration plots for future use in order to improve the pasture condition;

-       to prevent the construction of non-sectoral infrastructure facilities (except for those constructed with the permission of the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan) in order not to reduce the area of ​​pasture lands and not increase the pressure;

Also, the recommendation manual “On pasture rotation” was developed and submitted to PUUs. All recommendations helped to improve the current condition of pastures. In addition, the establishment of demonstration plots in Project targeted villages is aimed at the restoration of barren lands, low-cost roads and rehabilitation of degraded pastures. Demonstration plots are located on pastures close to the villages, which makes it easier to maintain and control. Erosion is widespread due to the closeness of pastures to the village, overgrazing and trampling.

Every pasture user is obliged to contribute to prevention of erosion and flooding of pastures. Therefore, planning and design work for the protection and efficient use of natural resources, including pastures, requires a team approach.

All the recommendations given by the project specialists to the PUUs, in general, helped to improve the condition of pastures, their effective use, increase livestock productivity and improve the well-being of targeted villages.


Sijouddin ISROILOV,

National Pasture Assessment and Monitoring Consultant