Move aims to conserve groundwater by reducing eucalyptus trees
An initiative taken up by the district administration along with other departments aims to discourage farmers from cultivating eucalyptus, a water-intensive species, which has adversely affected groundwater level in the region.
Deputy Commissioner D.S. Vishwanath has formulated a plan to encourage farmers to cultivate sandalwood instead of eucalyptus, which would fetch a fair amount of money for the growers. The move would also conserve groundwater in the perennial drought-hit region.
The district administration, zilla panchayat, Department of Forests, Horticulture Department and Karnataka Soaps and Detergents Ltd. (KSDL) have joined hands to implement this project, named ‘Siritana’, or prosperity. After consultations, it was decided that sandalwood would be the ideal alternative for eucalyptus as the dry conditions in the region were suitable for its cultivation, and it would prove to be lucrative for growers too.
It is estimated that about 500 sandalwood trees would be cultivated in one hectare. This would be worth about Rs. 1.7 crore in 15 to 20 years, Mr. Vishwanath said. In the meantime, farmers could cultivate cashew and other crops through intercropping to reap regular income, he said.
The authorities have already made arrangements to supply saplings to those who want to grow sandalwood. For this they need to fill and submit a registration form and get the saplings.
A token amount of Re. 1 would be collected from buyers in order to make their involvement felt in the project, Mr. Vishwanath told The Hindu.
“It’s a three-dimensional project. Firstly, it intends to convince the people about the ills of growing eucalyptus; secondly, it helps the ecology [as it is not hard on groundwater]; and thirdly, it fetches more income,” he said.
As the regulations on sandalwood cultivation have been relaxed, people can easily grow it and earn well.
Marketing of sandalwood too has become easy as the KSDL would liaise with growers to purchase it. Sandalwood has much demand in the international market as it is used to manufacture perfumes and soaps.