Telangana: Lab-grown plants Haritha Haram’s X factor

A little over four lakh lab-grown bamboo seedlings to be distributed to farmers as part of agroforestry theme of green drive

By Author  |  Published: 16th May 2019  1:21 am
Haritha Haram
Bamboo can be planted either as a boundary crop or as block plantation and is ready for harvest in five years. — Photo: Representation

Hyderabad: Telanganaku Haritha Haaram, the programme aimed at increasing green cover in Telangana to improve environment, for the first time will see the distribution of lab-grown plants in an experiment that officials hope will prove a success.

As part of the fifth round of Haritha Haram, to be kicked off sometime in July once the monsoon sets in, a little more than four lakh lab-grown bamboo seedlings would be distributed to farmers as part of the agroforestry focus of the programme.

With the government deciding that agroforestry would be this year’s Haritha Haram’s focus area, plans to distribute large numbers of teak, casurina, sandalwood and bamboo seedlings were put in place. In addition to the 4.3 lakh bamboo plants procured by the Forest Department, the Horticulture Department too is planning to augment this number by purchasing some more tissue culture raised bamboo plants.

“The selection of four bamboo species ideal for Telangana’s weather and soil conditions was based on recommendations by the Bamboo Technical Support Group,” B Babu, deputy director of the Horticulture Department, told Telangana Today.

Since the plants chosen for the agroforestry component of Haritha Haram need a certain level of moisture in the soil for them to take root, survive and grow, it was decided to implement this phase of the programme in August, well after the monsoon settles in.

The rest of the Haritha Haaram programme, however, will be launched as planned in July during which another plant, tamarind, on which focus is being placed this year, will be distributed to the people along with other tree species.

Bamboo can be planted either as a boundary crop or even as block plantation and will be ready for harvest in five years. There are also plans to have tissue-culture labs growing bamboo plants in the State, which are likely to be in place in the next year or so.

“This is the first time that we will be using tissue culture-raised plants. The bamboo seedlings were procured after a tendering process. This year we got four lakh of these seedlings on an experimental basis. Based on how these plants grow, we may increase the number from next year,” RM Dobriyal, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Social Forestry), told Telangana Today.

This year, Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao set a target of planting a whopping 100 crore seedlings and saplings for Haritha Haram. As many as 53 crore saplings are being raised or a major portion of these were readied by the Rural Development Department, followed by 22 crore by the Forest Department, 15 core by MA&UD, seven crore by HMDA and three crore by GHMC.

25% saplings to be forest species

Chief Secretary SK Joshi on Wednesday instructed officials to ensure that the target of raising 100 crore seedlings and plants for distribution during this year’s Haritha Haram is met.

Joshi said as per Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao’s instructions, 25 per cent to 30 per cent of all plants being raised must belong to species that occur naturally in forests, while another 10 per cent should be ‘homestead plants’ that are usually grown at home, which officials should be in a position to distribute as per people’s needs.

The Chief Secretary, addressing a video conference with Collectors and other senior officials from various departments, said another 1,000 gram panchayats were yet to begin work on setting up of nurseries, and this should be expedited.

Addressing a video conference with officials from all districts and reviewing preparations for the fifth round of Haritha Haram, Joshi said so far seedlings and saplings were being grown in 72 per cent of the nurseries in Telangana.

Calling on the Collectors to supervise the readiness of all nurseries in their districts for distribution of plants under Haritha Haram, Joshi reminded them that the programme this year would focus on agroforestry. “We must encourage farmers to grow bamboo and sandalwood, among other species as directed by the Chief Minister,” he said.

The meeting also discussed reconciliation of forest land records with those of revenue records. Special Chief Secretary of Revenue Department Rajeshwar Tiwari said so far 54 lakh acres of forest land records were clarified out of the 66 lakh acres. The remaining verification process is in different stages, he said.

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