Farmers prefer eucalyptus cultivation to sandalwood

Farmers prefer eucalyptus cultivation to sandalwood

As the monsoon is slowly catching up, the Forest department personnel are exhorting farmers to take up sandalwood cultivation as it is considered a highly beneficial venture.

Moreover, through sandalwood cultivation, the Forest department wants to check rampant growth of eucalyptus.

Water table in the district has plummeted to an alarming level forcing the Forest and Horticulture departments to advocate change in farming trend, including banning cultivation of eucalyptus. But, eucalyptus saplings are being sold in the district and at a few places, farmers have taken up nursery cultivation on their field for the past several years. This could jeopardise the whole objective of increasing groundwater level.

A few farmers in Bhatrahalli are involved in growing eucalyptus saplings on their land. They collect seeds from the plants grown on their field and nurse them to be sold later. Mainly women are involved in the task.

However, a majority of the farmers involved in the cultivation of ragi, mulberry and tomato have reserved a part of the land in their fields to grow eucalyptus saplings.

They have their own reason for their preference. Eucalyptus is known to deplete groundwater.

“Poor rainfall, rising prices of fertilisers and seeds have forced us to grow eucalyptus, which requires minimum investment. With no adequate water, plants have dried up and we have no alternative to compensate the loss,” said Narayanswamy of the village.

Growing demand

There is a growing demand for eucalyptus and farmers from Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu come Kolar to buy saplings from here. Saplings are priced from Rs three to Rs eight depending upon their height and size.

Last year, the officials from the City Municipality and Forest Department in a joint operation seized eucalyptus saplings that were being sold (during monsoon) by farmers.

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