Forests are being cleared illegally in Adilabad to make room for cultivation

Authorities in Adilabad district seem to have missed the obvious point when it comes to control of large-scale illegal forest clearances, which is resulting in creation of agriculture fields.

Thrust on development of irrigation potential in the agency area, timely supply of agriculture inputs, and improved access to markets would have deterred tribal people from bringing extra land under cultivation, according to experts.

The increase in crop area from 4 lakh hectares in 2002 to 6.12 lakh hectares in 2010 is mostly a result of illegal occupation of forest land, especially during the latter half of the last decade.

While the extent of fallow lands has stayed put at 43,000 hectares, a fair portion of the estimated over-2000 sq km of newly deforested area (of the original 7,200 sq km under green cover) has been brought under cultivation.

Boost

The advent of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA) has given a boost to incorporation of new tracts of forest under farming.

“However, this has neither increased production nor improved the economic condition of tribal farmers,” asserts B. Ramakanth, a progressive farmer from Tosham in Gudihatnoor mandal, who has experience of working in the tribal belt.

Tribal people are given to cultivating food grains in a major part of the land notwithstanding the extent being freshly included for agriculture. The productivity is not commensurate with the toil they put in the new fields, located mostly on a hilly terrain.

“For example, even the greatest of physical efforts of a tribal farmer produces only about 3 quintals of jowar in an acre of his land. If he is given proper help to produce a remunerative 10 quintals from one acre, on a par with the average production in plain areas, he may not look to expand the extent of field he is cultivating,” says Mr. Ramakanth while suggesting measures for control of denudation of forests and bringing prosperity to the tribal farmers.