Staff Reporter

MADURAI: The Social Forestry Division had identified 70 per cent of the beneficiaries for the State Government’s scheme of ‘tree cultivation in private land’ and the identification process would be completed in a week’s time, said Divisional Forest Officer Sampat Lal Gupta here.

“Saplings of teak, neem, ailanthus, casuarina, bamboo and silk cotton are ready for distribution with the nurseries for the ranges of Vadipatti, Melur, Madurai, Tirumangalam and Theni,” he said.

Saplings would be distributed to farmers depending on the soil condition, he said and added that farmers in Theni would get silk cotton saplings in addition to other species. Since the objective was to raise the tree cover and at the same time benefit private land owners, both economically and environmentally, the Government had sanctioned funds to the tune of Rs. 30 lakh for the division. Around three lakh saplings would be supplied to farmers, including 50,000 saplings for Theni, Mr. Sampat Lal Gupta said.

Each farmer was also eligible for an incentive of Rs.1,500 for casuarina and ailanthus and Rs.1,000 for other species this year if they ensured survival of the plant.

“Soil condition and moisture level would determine the number of saplings that can be provided to a farmer. Though the distribution ratio of species will be the same from the bio-diversity point of view, the department has increased the number of teak saplings provided to a farmer.,”

Since the economic benefits for a farmer would be more in this scheme, preference would be given to help smaller farmers in rural areas. The department would bear the plantation cost and all that a farmer had to do was spend just a meagre amount for raising the crop.

“The department is contemplating withdrawal of refundable security deposit of 10 per cent of the plantation cost from farmers. In all likelihood, it will be withdrawn,” he hoped.

The plantation work would get completed before November, he said and added that interested farmers should give their willingness in writing in a prescribed format available with the respective rangers, Mr. Sampat Lal Gupta said.