: The Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) will provide support for marketing casuarina trees to help promote agro-forestry. It will help in providing bio-fertilisers for the plantation, Director-General of ICFRE V.K. Bahuguna said.

At the interactive meet with farmers at the Krishi Vigyan Kendra here on Monday, Mr. Bahuguna said it would give demonstrations to farmers. Often, companies formed cartels to lower the price of agro-forestry produce. This was true of the paper industry.

In India, around 32 million acres of forest was found around farmers fields. Therefore, the integration of Van Vigyan Kendra and Krishi Vigyan Kendra would help to improve food security, water security and even facilitate better technology to reach farmers.

This year, the Minister for Environment and Forest Jayanthi Natrajan announced in Coimbatore that they would distribute one crore free seedlings in areas affected by Cyclone Thane.

This was the first time the ICFRE was interacting with farmers to ascertain their needs. Earlier, they would distribute the seedlings through the Forest Department. The programme would start with farmers from Puducherry, Cuddalore and Villupuram, and will extend it to the other parts of the country.

At the function, Director of Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding N. Krishnakumar said 33 per cent of India should be forest area. So, in each district there was a move to improve the forest cover. There are over 600 companies selling agricultural seeds in India. There should be a move to start community seed orchards in many areas to improve agro-forestry. Around 145 trees having domestic value should be cultivated extensively to improve forest cover and to provide income. There was also a need for decentralised orchards to cater to the requirements of industries. They are currently working with the Indian Paper Manufacturing Association to provide good seeds, he said.

At the function, 100 farmers were given casuarina seedlings. The ICFRE is an autonomous organisation of the Ministry of Environment and Forests. It has established a Van Vigyan Kendra (Forest Science Centre) to disseminate technologies and technology products related to cultivation and management of important tree species.

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