The Sandal Wood Growers Association in the State, under the leadership of a group initiative in the name of Siri Group that seeks to promote agriculture, has underscored the need to motivate farmers to take up sandalwood cultivation in the State and elsewhere in the country.

At a press conference here on Tuesday H.S. Anantha Padmanabha, a former senior scientist at the Indian Institute of Wood Science and Technology and others on behalf of the association and Siri Group said the acreage under sandalwood was dwindling.

He said that from 5,400 square km in Karnataka and 3,500 square km in Tamil Nadu a few years ago, the acreage had fallen steeply and the yield had come down from 3,000 to 4,000 tonnes a year to just 200 to 300 tonnes now. Acharya Muralidhar called for a massive educational campaign about the advantages of growing sandalwood trees, their usefulness and the returns per acre. S. Prasad, a senior horticulturist, and K. Srinivas from the Siri Group, said sandalwood can be grown in a variety of soil and different climactic conditions and temperature. Rs. 8-12 lakh an acre is required for 12 years and the trees start yielding results after 15 years.