Back to news

High Yielding Variety of Oat Grass to Address Fodder Crisis in the Kangchenjunga Landscape, Bhutan

Animal husbandry is an integral part of farming systems in the Himalaya. Livestock provide dairy products, meat, draft power and farmyard manure. High altitude meadows characterized as rangelands have been traditionally used by both wild and domestic herbivores and they are an important source of livelihood for highland herder communities. High altitude pastures are used mainly for summer grazing only as the harsh cold weather makes habitation impossible in winter. As grazing area is limited and the growth rate of high altitude plants are slow, the availability of fodder and nutrition in high rangeland areas is one of the major challenges faced by highland herders as well as wild animals.

2 mins Read

70% Complete
Dr Tashi Samdrup, Director General, Department of Livestock, Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, Royal Government of Bhutan receiving the oat grass seeds from Dr Nakul Chettri and Mr Karma Phuntsho from ICIMOD.

The Kangchenjunga Landscape Conservation and Development Initiative (KLCDI) is a transboundary initiative which covers an area of 25,085.8 square kilometres, and spreads from the Terai-Duar lowlands of India and Nepal across the midhills of western Bhutan, north-eastern India and eastern Nepal, to the high Himalaya of India and Nepal. Contributing to the integral farming system of the region, rangelands occupy 19.7% of the total area of the landscape.

Rangelands are a source of fodder for both domesticated and wild animals. Dependency on these rangelands is particularly high in some parts of the landscape, especially in Bhutan and Nepal. Herders are facing fodder crises, especially during winter, due to harsh weather and slow growth. There are incidents of mass livestock death due to sudden heavy snow fall and fodder crisis. Such losses are unbearable to herders struggling with poverty. Even as the culture of herding is dwindling in the eastern Himalaya, mainly due to the associated hardship and lack of interest from the young, there is a desperate need to revive it to keep rangelands healthy and sustain the livelihood of high mountain communities.


Thimphu Dzong and the Thimphu valley where the Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, Royal Government of Bhutan.

With support from the International Centre for Integrated Mountain University (ICIMOD), Bhutan could avail a high quality and productive variety of oat grass (Table 1) from Lanzhou University, People’s Republic of China. This oat grass is among the best in terms of productivity and nutrient content, and has the potential to address fodder shortages in Bhutan and elsewhere.

Table 1: Oat grass from Lanzhou University (Courtesy of Professor Zhao Guiqin).
Parameters Oat Varieties
Longyan No 1 Longyan No 2 Longyan No 3 Qingyin No 1 Lin na
Plant height (cm) 120-140 125-146 140-160 120-150 120-140
Leaf: Stem ratio (to indicate leafiness of variety) 0.15±0.05 10.16±0.04 0.18±0.02 0.15±0.04 0.14±0.03
Dry matter content (%)/td>

34±1.2 32±2.0 31±1.6 33±1.4 34±1.8
Crude protein (%) 9.6±0.3 10.7±0.5 10.6±1.2 9.8±0.6 9.3±1.1
CADF content (%) 34.8±1.4 32.6±1.6 31.6 ±1.1 33±0.8 35±1.7
Seed yield( kg/ha) 4455±34 4263±51 4367±29 4115±38 4325±55

The seeds collected from Lanzhou was handover to Tashi Samdrup, Director General, Department of Livestock, Ministry of Agriculture and Forest, Royal Government of Bhutan. While accepting the seeds provisioned for the experimental trail, Samdrup appreciated the facilitation and support provided by ICIMOD. “The department takes this as a very positive move towards managing fodder shortage faced by herders. Fodder will be a crucial component of our Highland Development Programme, which has received the status of a Flagship Programme in our 12th Five Year Plan (2018-2023),” he said. Samdrup expressed his gratitude to Zhao Guiqin, Lanzhou University, Ruijun Long and Yi Shaoliang from ICIMOD for their support. “Such initiative on the exchange of knowledge, best practices and technology is important for vast swathes of rangeland ecosystems which are transboundary in nature,” said Nakul Chettri, Coordinator of KLCDI at ICIMOD.

Stay current

Stay up to date on what’s happening around the HKH with our most recent publications and find out how you can help by subscribing to our mailing list.

Sign Up

Related content

Continue exploring this topic

3 Aug 2015 News
Putting resilient livelihoods at the center

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), in collaboration with the National Planning Commission, Government of Nepal, launched the ‘Strategic Framework ...

27 Mar 2017 Himalica
Bhutan’s Minister of Agriculture and Forests visits Himalica Pilot Sites in Barshong, Tsirang

The Bhutanese Minister of Agriculture and Forests, Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji, visited Himalica pilot project sites in ...

10 Jun 2017 News
Silently Marching for Lake Nainital

This year's World Environment Day, a day through which awareness for our natural environment is raised, was celebrated with much ...

25 Mar 2019 Geospatial solutions
Hand in hand for global biodiversity data sharing

The 2018 Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Asia Regional Nodes Meeting was held in Kathmandu, Nepal, from 17 to 18 ...

9 May 2017 KSL
Picture Series: A New Generation of Trainers

Within this framework, several picture series community awareness sessions on different topics have been conducted in the past year and ...

10 Feb 2015 News
Hands on Training on Herbal Gardening for Teachers of Bhutan

ICIMOD, in collaboration with CoRRB, began promoting herbal gardens in Bhutan’s schools in 2012. Children plant medicinal herbs in their ...

14 Aug 2017 Climate change
Living in the Shadow of Climate Change

These days, readers frequently come across headlines spelling of the approaching doom and gloom of climate change. In South Asia, ...

9 Dec 2016 News
Communities Develop Demonstrable Agroforestry Systems with Poulownia Plantation in Sushare Gaun, Gorkha, Nepal

Agroforestry is practiced in both tropical and temperate regions where it produces food, fiber and biomass energy, contributes to food ...