Tribune News Service
New Delhi, June 15
The notion that agroforestry means only timber species, means long maturity period and delayed returns to farmers needs a relook from farmers as well as the industry.
The states were being advised to encourage contract farming on the lines similar to crops right from the pre-planting, planting and harvest, the Agriculture Ministry said, laying emphasis on the multiple uses of agroforestry — ranging from additional income to farmers to carbon sequestration for combating climate change.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for ‘vocal for our local’ was of great relevance to agro-forestry and sensitising the implementing states to assist farmers in making the correct choice of species was the general consensus at a webinar to discuss ways and means to connect agro-forestry farmers to the industry, the Agriculture Ministry added.
According to Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal, various reforms had been brought in the Agriculture Sector to ensure optimum remuneration to farmers to ensure their welfare, including a Rs 1.63-lakh crore outlay and the Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Ordinance 2020, to establish a national market and give farmers the option to choose.
Apart from providing additional income to farmers, agroforestry has several other uses such as green fodder, reduction in requirement of fertilisers by planting leguminous species and carbon sequestration for combating climate change.
The officials said the Central Silk Board had assured to assist farmers who planted the range of silk host species, which on an average started giving returns in three to four years and were ideal for agroforestry systems.
“In conclusion, the states are advised to encourage contract farming on similar lines as crops right from pre-planting, planting and harvest. The industry, both existing and potential, should be taken as the hub and activities planned around that. Multipurpose species should be encouraged so that returns start flowing at the earliest, this would enable the fulfillment of the vision of an ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat’,” the officials said.
“There are a number of rising sectors which would ensure quick returns to farmers as well as fulfil industry requirements, including medicinal and aromatic plants, silk, lac, paper and pulp, tree-borne oil seeds for production of bio-fuels,” as per expert speakers JLN Sastry, Chief Executive Officer, National Medicinal Plant Board; Rohit Pandit, secretary-general, Indian Papers Manufacturers Association; HK Kulkarni, former vice-president, ITC Limited; and Rajit Ranjan Okhandiar, Chief Executive Officer and member secretary, Central Silk Board.
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