Azolla plant helps Arunachal farmers feed livestock

Itanagar: Commercial cultivation of Azolla, a small aquatic plant full of nutrients, has come as great help to farmers of Lower Dibang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh who often face difficulty in properly feeding their livestock.

Cultivation of traditional plants often fails to supply enough fodder for cattle, pigs, chickens, ducks and fish in the verdant valley, but the plant has proved a saviour, the project coordinator of the Krishi Vigyan Kendra, which introduced the plant in the district, said.

T Z Ramesha, the project coordinator, said the plant contained abundant nutrients which could also be used as a manure for vegetables. "Progressive farmers are selected as beneficiaries and provided with Azolla multiplication units consisting of quality seeding materials, silpaulin sheet, Azofert, Azophose and harvesting net," Ramesha said.

"Twenty-seven farmers from across the district have been provided with the assistance including several self help groups," he said.

The Azolla spreads all over the tank and appears like a thick green mat in 7-10 days` time. Daily half kg of Azolla can be harvested thereafter, he said.

Azolla is rich in nutrients containing 25-35 per cent protein, 10-15 per cent minerals, 7-10 per cent amino acids besides other bio-active substances.

Due to its high protein and low lignin content, livestock (cattle, sheep, goat, pigs and rabbits), poultry and fish can easily digest it.

According to Raju Linggi, a farmer from Iduli village, he now reaps better harvest than he normally does using the traditional or commercial fodder. "Poultry birds and fish grow fast with bigger in sizes," he said.