One such ideal fodder tree for ruminants is Moringa (Moringa oleifera L.), popularly known as “drumstick tree” for its pods. This fast-growing tree native to Indian subcontinent is grown throughout the tropics for multi-purpose use viz. human food, livestock forage, medicine values, dye, water purification, and for its wide adaptability and ease of establishment. It is a hardy tree which is drought tolerant and can withstand diverse temperature range, grows in different types of soil and has fast and vigorous growth. The leaves have high protein content with various essential amino acids. In addition to various essential minerals present in the tree, healing properties and health benefits are also associated with this tree. These qualities packaged into a single tree may justify Moringa being termed as 'Miracle tree'. Besides being used for human consumption the leaves of this tree have been reported to be used as major component in animal feed/fodder.
Moringa is a fast growing tree and produces huge biomass per unit area in comparison with any other fodder crop/ tree. A comparative analysis is presented in table – 1 below:
Table – 1: Biomass Production: Moringa vs Other Fodder Crops
|Sl.No||Crop||Biomass Production MT/ha/Year|
|3||Cereals in rotation||200|
Moringa outperforms all other crops in biomass production and single planting lasts for 8-9 years. It can be grown as hedge, fence, and multi-cut forage, etc. From one ha land under Moringa, the nutrients harvested shall include the following (Source: CIRG, Mathura):
All these factors may make Moringa leaves and green stems very attractive and inexpensive as a source of animal feed.
Moringa offers a good alternative source of protein with over 20% crude protein in leaves to humans and ruminants wherever they thrive (Nouala et al., 2006). There has been an increasing interest in the use of Moringa as a protein source for livestock (Asaolu et al., 2009; 2010). Laboratory analysis (Makkar & Becker 1997; Asaolu, 2009) showed negligible amounts of tannins (1 to23 g/kg) in all fractions of the Moringa oleifera plant and high levels of sulphur-containing amino acids. Macronutrients like P, K, Ca, and Mg play key roles in balancing the physiological, metabolic, and biochemical processes of livestock. Moringa leaves contain high amount of macronutrients Mg and K, and can be effectively used to fulfill the dietary and nutritional requirements of livestock animals by mixing of Moringa leaves. Moringa leaves contain a good amount of beta-carotene, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and iron. Nutritional profile is presented in Table – 2.
Table - 2: Nutritional Profile of Moringa oleifera
|Metabolizable energy (MJ/kg DM)||9.30|
|Organic matter digestibility (%)||72.0|
|Crude fiber (%)||10.0|
|Crude protein (%)||28.9|
|Nitrogen Free Extracts (NFE) (%)||45.0|
|Neutral detergent fiber (NDF) (%)||16.7|
|Non fiber carbohydrate (NFC) (%)||38.4|
|Acid detergent lignin (%)||6.49|
There is growing interest/awareness among the Moringa growers across the globe including India for adoption of latest techniques for commercial cultivation of Moringa and technologies for preparing animal feed from Moringa. The Central Institute for Research on Goats (CIRG), Mathura (UP) has undertaken extensive research on Moringa both for its commercial cultivation and using it as animal feed, particularly for goats. This bankable model scheme explores the possibilities for use of Moringa as a major component of animal feed. In the present bankable model, recommendations of the CIRG, Mathura for Moringa and the views of the Moringa growers and entrepreneurs using Moringa leaves for animal feed preparation has been taken into consideration.
Moringa enjoys the climate of tropical and sub- tropical region. Temperature ranges are 25O-35oC, but it can tolerate up to 48oC and it can survive a light frost as well. It is hardy and tolerant to drought and cold due to presence of a long taproot system. It grows best in direct sunlight under 2000 meters altitude. Minimum annual rainfall requirements are estimated at 250 mm with maximum at over 3,000 mm. Irrigation is needed for leaf production if rainfall is less than 800 mm. In areas with heavy rainfall, trees can be planted on small hills to encourage water run-off.
It tolerates a wide range of soil conditions, but prefers a neutral to slightly acidic (pH. 6.3-7.0), well-drained sandy or loamy soil for optimal growth. The clay soils that become sticky when wet and very hard when dry may be avoided. Avoid termite-infested soils as much as possible. It can tolerate poor soils including coastal soils.
There is exclusive variety developed for fodder purpose in Moringa. The varieties suitable for fodder purpose are P.K.M - 1 and P.K.M - 2 developed by Tamil Nadu Agricultural University. At Central Institute for Research on Goats (CIRG), Mathura, local selections from Chhattisgarh were also tried and found suitable for fodder purpose.
Moringa can be propagated either by (i) Seed or (ii) Stem cuttings. Plants produced with cuttings will not have a deep root system and will be more sensitive to wind and drought. Cuttings are also more sensitive to termite attacks. For fodder purpose, propagation by seed is preferred as requirement is large in view of narrow spacing followed. Seeds can be sown directly in- situ or raised in polybags in nursery for further transplantation. A good seed should be viable, clean and disease free. Seeds should not be stored over long periods as they lose viability after about one year. There are around 4000 Moringa seeds (with their shell) in a kilo. Direct sowing is preferred for fodder purpose. Seeds are required to be soaked in water for 10-12 hours before sowing. Availability of quality planting material is of utmost importance in Moringa cultivation.
Seeds must be sown at a maximum depth of 2 cm. Deeper seeding will greatly reduce the germination rate. One or two seeds per pit can be sown. When seeds are expensive or difficult to acquire, a better option is to plant one seed only and to wait two weeks for germination to occur. Then, the empty spaces are refilled. When the seed quality is more uncertain or the seeding period not optimal, use two seeds per pit is advocated. If the two seeds germinate, the weaker plant can be removed. Moringa seeds germinate 12 to 15 days after seeding. It is better to get the seed testing done or get the seeds from reliable source for better germination.
The seed requirement is 40 kg per ha. The best quality of seed (PKM1) is available from Tamil Nadu Agriculture University, Coimbatore costing around Rs.3000 per kg. This variety (PKM1) is prolific and having high germination percentage. Also seeds of local selections are reported to be sold in the market, but with less potential for intensive cultivation of Moringa.
Generally plain land (without waterlogging) in tropical areas is suitable for Moringa cultivation. The selected site may be cleaned where necessary and all unwanted materials removed from the field. Land needs to be thoroughly ploughed and levelled. In hilly areas, planting is done on terraces against the slopes. The soil preparation involves fertilization and irrigation so as to keep the soil moist and ready before sowing is done. It is recommended that soil testing is done for deciding the proper fertilizer dosage.
The recommended spacing for Moringa for the purpose of fodder by CIRG, Mathura is 30 cm x 30 cm (row to row, plant to plant), which accommodates around 1.11 lakh plants per ha. The seed rate for this design of plantation is 40 kg per ha.
Moringa seeds can be sown during June-July at the onset of Monsoon. However, in moderate climates, with availability of irrigation, Moringa can be sown any time during the year.
Moringa can germinate and grow without irrigation if it is sown during the rainy season. Its tuberous root develops in twenty days and allows young plants to endure drought. However, for optimal growth, it is essential to irrigate regularly depending upon the climate. Irrigation is also necessary to produce leaves all year long, including during dry seasons. In North India, during winter (15 December 15 March), Moringa sheds leaves and no cutting is taken up. Irrigation may not be required during these periods. Any suitable irrigation system can be used – flood, drip or sprinkler irrigation. Drip irrigation is recommended for saving water and also to get higher yields. If water is scarce, mulching or a very superficial weeding will also decrease evaporation. In case of temperature remaining less than 25C, irrigation can be done even at an interval of 30-40 days. If the temperature remains above 40OC, surface irrigation is recommended every 20 days. In the present model, drip irrigation is considered.
The compost/ FYM @1o MT per ha may be added and mixed with the soil at the time of planting for better growth and soil health. It is also advisable to apply FYM every year. The vermi compost, if applied in required quantity will provide the nutrients in addition to keeping the soil health intact for long time. The dosage for NPK may be decided on the basis of soil test results. Generally 100 kg/ ha each of nitrogen, phosphorus and potash is recommended. The fertilizer is generally applied in three split doses during the year.
Weed growth is observed during the initial period after sowing which may be controlled with 1-2 manual weedings. Thereafter, due to close planting, weed growth is very much limited. Weedicides are not recommended and only intercultural operations involving manual removal of weed in the initial phases of the plant is sufficient.
Moringa is a hardy plant and resistant to most of the pests and diseases. As such no major pests and diseases are reported. If it is cultivated for fodder, army caterpillar is the major pest and can be controlled by localized fire. Cattle, sheep, etc. eat the Moringa leaves, pods, seeds. Protection of the plants from livestock grazing is very essential by putting proper fence or live fence along the border.
First harvesting in Moringa for fodder is done 90 days after sowing. Subsequent harvests will be undertaken every 45 days. In North India, in winter season (between 15 December to 15 March), no harvesting is undertaken as leaf shedding takes place. Six cuttings/ harvest are possible in North India, whereas, in other parts with mild winter production through the year, 8 cuttings are possible. Once planted, the green biomass can be harvested from Moringa plant up to 8-10 years. In the present model economic life assumed is 8 years.
The leaves and stems are easily harvested by cutting the plant at around 30 cm above ground level though manual cutting. These leaves and stems, which are generally tender at the time of harvest are cut into small sizes through chaff cutter before drying and the same is used as a component of animal feed.
Normally, a green biomass of 650 MT/ ha per year for 8-10 years can be harvested through 6 cuttings during a year under North Indian conditions. However, this yield can be much higher if more number of cuttings are undertaken as possible in South India.
The Moringa green biomass is harvested in 6-8 cuttings. This green fodder is to be preserved for feeding the goats throughout the year. The steps involved for preserving are as under:
The green biomass is dried for making pelleted animal feed. Before drying the green biomass is chaffed into small pieces of approx. 1 inch using chaff cutter. Direct sunlight takes 7-8 hours for converting green into dry biomass. Generally sun-drying is being practiced at present. Since one or two harvest may be required to be undertaken in rainy/ winter seasons an alternate source of drying (machine drying) without nutrient losses could be explored. CIRG reported that antifungal property of the plant does not let fungal growth even if the green biomass is left undried for 3 to 4 days.
In the trials conducted by CIRG, Mathura, 1.5 to 2 kg of pelletized feed per goat is found to be optimum for the desired live body weight of 30 kg attained in one year. With Moringa pellets, there is no need for feeding other concentrates or green fodder. The goats are found to relish on these pellets as compared to any other kind of feeds. The cost of feeding with Moringa pellets is estimated at Rs. 9-10 per animal per day (assuming 2 kg per adult @ Rs.4.5-5 per kg) as compared to Rs. 15 per animal per day in case of traditional feeding systems. Thus, use of Moringa pellets will result in huge savings in feed cost which is the most critical aspect in viability of stall fed goat rearing. With one ha under Moringa cultivation, a farmer can easily rear around 150 Sirohi breed or 200 Barberi breed goats.
In research farm, Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR) of 8.76:1 has been recorded in goats fed with Moringa based feed while FCR of 11.1:1 has been recorded in goats fed other than Moringa based feed. The impact evaluation study conducted at the field indicated a reduction in feed cost by 25% and increase in milk yield by 20% aptly demonstrating suitability of Moringa as animal feed.
The techno-economic parameters for the model project are detailed in below table:
|3||Spacing||30 cm x 30 cm|
|4||Plant population/ha||1.11 lakh|
|6||Planting material requirement kg/ha||40|
|7||Planting material cost (Rs./ha) @ Rs.3000/ kg||120000|
|9||Farm yard Manure (MT/ha)||10|
|10||Farm yard Manure (Rs./MT)||1000|
|17||Cost of Drip Irrigation (Rs./ha)||100000|
|18||Cost of Pelletizer||300000|
|19||Maize requirement (Mt/ year) @ Moringa:Maize:Salt - 80:19:1:||24.7|
|20||Cost of Maize (Rs./MT)||11000|
|21||Salt requirement (MT/ year) @ Moringa:Maize:Salt - 80:19:1:||1.3|
|22||Cost of Salt (Rs./MT)||2000|
|23||No. of Biomass Cuttings/ year||6|
|24||Production of Green Biomass (MT/ha/ year)||650|
|25||Production of Dry Biomass (MT/ha/ year)||130|
|26||Production of Feed Pellets (MT/ha/ year)||156|
|27||Sale Price of Pellets (Rs./ MT)||4500|
|28||Feed/ Pellet Requirement (kg/day/goat)||1.5 to 2|
|29||No. of goats that can be supported by 1 ha Moringa||150 (Sirohi/ Jamnapari), 200 (Barberi)|
|30||Life span of Moringa for Biomass Production (Years)||8|
|31||Life of drip irrigation system (Years)||5|
In the present model, the unit cost of development of Moringa in 1 hectare of land considering seeds of PKM-1 variety with an economic life of 8 years has been presented. This may be modified to as per use of other varieties of seeds/ planting material and taking into account the local conditions, techno-economic parameters and the prevailing wage rate as per the minimum wage act of the concerned state. The unit cost in the model works out to Rs.9,14,725/ hectare. The cost includes cost of cultivation, drip irrigation system, chaff cutter and pelletizer unit. The details of unit cost for Moringa cultivation including feed pellet production is given in below:
Moringa Cultivation for Fodder: Project Cost
|I. Investment Cost|
|1||Land preparation, Layout||8000|
|4||Drip irrigation system||1,00,000|
|5||Cost of Chaffing machine||20,000|
|6||Cost of Pelletizer||3,00,000|
|Sub-Total - I||558500|
|II. Maintenance Cost|
|1||Cost of Manures/Compost||10000|
|2||Cost of Fertilizers||7175|
|3||Manures & Fertilizer application||3750|
|4||Plant protection chemicals||500|
|5||Application of plant protection||500|
|7||Harvesting and Transportation||30000|
|8||Cost of maize||271700|
|9||Cost of salt||2600|
|10||Chaffing & Pelletizing||15000|
|11||Packing & Storage||10000|
|Sub Total - II||356225|
|Total Cost I + II||9,14,725|
Means of Financing
|1||Total Project Cost||9,14,725|
|2||Margin Money @ 10% of Project Cost||91473|
The margin money / down payment prescribed are 5 %, 10 % and 15% for small, medium and other farmers respectively. The rest of the investment cost will be provided as bank loan. However, in the present model, 10 % of the unit cost i.e. Rs. 91,473 has been considered as margin money.
Bank loan of 90% of the total cost of development shall be available from the financing institution. Bank loan considered in the model is 90%. It works out to Rs. 8,23,253 in the model.
The rate of interest to be charged to the ultimate borrower would be guided by RBI guidelines issued from time to time. However, the ultimate lending rate has been considered as 13 % for working out the bankability of the model project.
Banks are guided by RBI guidelines issued from time to time in this regard.
Financial analysis was carried out for one hectare of Moringa cultivation including pellet production. For financial analysis, the income was assessed on a conservative basis. The detailed calculation of project’s income and expenditure has been indicated in below table:
Moringa Cultivation for Fodder: Income - Expenditure Statement
|a)||MT of Pellets/ha||156||156||156||156||156||156||156||156|
|1||Land preparation, layout||8000||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|4||Drip irrigation system||100000||0||0||0||0||100000||0||0|
|5||Cost of Chaffing machine||20000||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|6||Cost of Pelletizer||300000||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|1||Cost of Manures/Compost||10000||10000||10000||10000||10000||10000||10000||10000|
|2||Cost of Fertilizers||7175||7175||7175||7175||7175||7175||7175||7175|
|3||Manures & fertilizer application||3750||3750||3750||3750||3750||3750||3750||3750|
|4||Plant protection chemicals||500||500||500||500||500||500||500||500|
|5||Application of plant protection||500||500||500||500||500||500||500||500|
|7||Harvesting and Transportation||30000||30000||30000||30000||30000||30000||30000||30000|
|8||Cost of maize||271700||271700||271700||271700||271700||271700||271700||271700|
|9||Cost of salt||2600||2600||2600||2600||2600||2600||2600||2600|
|10||Chaffing & Pelletizing||15000||15000||15000||15000||15000||15000||15000||15000|
|11||Packing & Storage||10000||10000||10000||10000||10000||10000||10000||10000|
Table – 3: Moringa Cultivation for Fodder:
Summary of Financial Analysis
Based on the cash flow, the detailed repayment schedule has been worked out and furnished in the below table:
|Year||Loan O/s at the beginning of the year||Interest @ 13%||Gross Surplus||Repayment||Total Outgoing||Net Surplus||Loan O/s at the end of the year|
|a)||Entire feed is used for captive consumption as goat feed. It may be safely assumed that entire surplus from sale of pellets can be utilized to pay the bank loan. As a result, repayment can be even before 5 years.|
|b)||With 1 ha under Moringa, 150 goats of Sirohi breed or 200 of Barberi breed can be easily reared. Assuming sale price @ Rs. 250 per kg of live weight of 30 kg/animal will bring in a gross income of Rs. 11.25 lakh to Rs. 15 lakh every year. This will facilitate early repayment of bank loan availed for Moringa cultivation.|
The repayment period works out to five years including one year grace period for repayment of principal.
Moringa is fast growing, produces far higher biomass than any other fodder crop and rich in nutrients. It can be grown in diverse climatic zones, in low fertility and saline soils. It also has tolerance for drought conditions. The stall fed goat rearing can be made possible by cultivation of Moringa as the feed source. Moringa cultivation for fodder purpose is technically feasible, financially viable and bankable activity in the areas identified suitable for it based on agro-climatic conditions.