Chandigarh, Nov 19 (UNI) The Punjab Forest Department would produce 10 lakh saplings of fast-growing and economically important tree species like eucalyptus, shisham and a few others through clonal technology to give a boost to agro forestry in the State.
Disclosing this here today Forests and Wildlife Minister Tikshan Sud said that the Department has established seven mist chambers at Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Ropar, Moga, Phillaur and Bathinda to promote clonal technology. With the installation of this technology, the Department would be producing about 10 lakh clonal plants of fast-growing and economically important tree species like eucalyptus, shisham etc.
He said that these plants would be distributed to the farmers for planting in their fields at subsidised rates as well as be used for departmental planting to enhance productivity.
Explaining the rationale for using the new clonal technology, the Forest Minister said that productivity of clonal plantations varies from 20 to 44 m3/ha/year compared to 6-10 m3/ha/year of seed route plantations. The growing of clonal trees would not only increase income for the farmers in the agro-forestry systems but also help to diversify from the wheat-paddy cropping pattern that lately has become more or less unprofitable besides exhausting soil nutrients and lowering the watertable .
Mr Sud said that Forest Department in collaboration with the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana has evolved new agro-forestry models that allows a combination of crops along with trees. He said that with the promotion of agro-forestry, the state would be striving to achieve the target of bringing 10 per cent land area under the cover of trees and forests.
The government is also comtemplating setting up wood based units like paper mills and plywood making units in the state to boost the economy, the minister said while pointing out that most of these units are located outside the state.
The minister said that with the boost in the agro forestry sector, the existing 61.2 million trees outside forest areas are likely to increase to 100 million by 2010. The Forest Department has launched a campaign to involve the people, particularly the farmers in planting trees and the department would supply 80 lakh saplings to them through forest nurseries.