7 mist chambers in pipeline to promote quality seedlings in Punjab

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Chandigarh, Oct 1 (UNI) The Punjab Forest Department will establish seven mist chambers to promote production of quality seedlings in the state, using clonal technology.

The mist chambers will be set up at Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Ropar, Moga, Phillaur and Bathinda, Forest Minister Tikshan Sud said today.

He said to improve the tree planting stock in forests and farmers' fields, the department was all set to produce over 10 lakh clonal seedlings of fast-growing and economically important tree species such as eucalyptus, shisham and drek.

These seedlings would be supplied to farmers for planting in their fields at subsidized rates and also used for departmental plantation to enhance productivity, he added.

The Minister said the clonal technology had been adopted by the Punjab Forest Department because it increases productivity of seedlings fourfold as compared to traditional method.

He said growing of clonal trees would not only increase the income of farmers from land under the agro-forestry systems, but also help to diversify the land use. The agro forestry was becoming quite attractive for farmers who want to switch away from the wheat/paddy cropping pattern as it was becoming unsustainable and unprofitable for them.

Mr Sud said increased paddy cultivation was also exhausting the nutrients and water table of the state soil.

He added the Forest Department had evolved a new agro-forestry model that allowed a combination of crops along with trees. The State Forest Department was striving to achieve a target of 15 per cent land area under tree cover and forests by the year 2017.

With the increase in productivity through clonal plantations Punjab would have surplus wood to attract mega wood-based industries such as paper, pulp and plywood. There were already 61.2 million trees existing outside forests and the number was expected to increase to 100 million by 2010, Mr Sud said.

The Minister said efforts were afoot to involve the farmers in the campaign for clonal tree planting and the department was expected to supply sufficient number of clonal seedlings from forest nurseries in the future.

UNI VKJ ATI NS1303

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