Punjab to set up seven mist chambers for producing quality seedlings

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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 that in order to improve the tree planting stock in forests and farmers' fields the department was all set to produce over ten 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 that the clonal technology had been adopted by the Punjab Forest Department as it increases productivity of seedlings fourfold as compared to traditional method.

He said that 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 the farmers who want to switch away from the wheat/paddy cropping pattern as it was becoming unsustainable and unprofitable for them.

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

Mr Sud said 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% land area under tree cover and forests by the year 2017.

He said that 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.

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 VN1252

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