Is Narmada water being made to flow in Sabarmati not supplied to city of Ahmedabad? This has furthered the idea of river...
I have been selling glass for commercial buildings talking about light, thermal/solar heat gain etc.etc..but I...
Dear Saxena ji,
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IN KILLUKULAVAIPATTI village in the
drought prone Pudukottai district of
Tamil Nadu, M Thangappa - a 45 -year
old marginal farmer - earns his livelihood from the thorny, bushy plant,
Prosopis juliflora, popularly called
Kattukaruvel. Like him, many subsistence farmers and landless labourers use
juliflora not only as fuelwood, but also
as other means of livelihood.
In the countryside, varieties of
plants have been flourishing. Of these,
Lantana camera and P juliflora have
been found to be very beneficial, while
others like "congress grass" are known
to have adverse effects on the environment. P juliflora, a sturdy thorny plant
which resembles black babul, but has a
lesser canopy, is spreading rapidly not
only on wastelands, but also on the arable lands.
Two decades ago, this plant was
unknown to many parts ofIndia. Now it
grows widely on wetlands, drylands,
hillocks, road#es and even on home-steads. Mookaish Udayar of Killukottai
village informed that "one of our villagers brought the seed from Trichydistrict and pr6pagated it, as it was rare in our areas."
According to Udayar, uprooting this
plant is difficult as its roots reach deep
down into the soil, and has large thorns.
if the plant is chopped off without being
uprooted completely, it spreads much
faster. In rain-starved drylands which
often remain fallow for years, juliflora
grows into a forest, says R Palanichamy,
a dryland farmer of Sengipatti village in Thanjavur.
For the poor villager, juliflora is a
goldmine. He easily earns upto Rs 5,000
annually by using several parts of the
plant. Juliflora wood is sold by villagers
in nearby urban centres or to the local firewood dealer.
Juliflora charcoal sells like hot cakes
at tea stalls and laundry shops. Some tea
shop owners buy and store it even up to
six months to avoid shortages.
Shanmugam Chettiar, a tea stall owner
in Keeranur town of Pudukottai, pays
Rs 3 per kg for juliflora charcoal. The
price doubles during monsoon.
Normally, one kg banyan Wood charcoal fetches Rs 2 per kg_. B6t juliflora
charcoal has higher energy content than
banyan wood charcoal which burns off
quickly like cotton. Besides, juliflora
charcoal emits less smoke and causes no physical irritation.
During the beginning of the agricultural season, farmers clear all juliflora trees from their fields which they occassionally sell as charcoal. Therefore, juliflora firewood and charcoal supply is
high during this season.
Juliflora seeds serve as good feed for
livestock, including pigs. Although all
species of livestock eat the seeds, sheep
and goat prefer it most. However, some
farmers feel that the seeds spread faster
through the grazing ofsheep and goat. It
often happens that juliflora seeds in
sheep's manure germinate immediately after rainfall.
The wood from the plant is used for
making stools and benches. Mature
juliflora trunks can also be used for
making agricultural implements like
hoe and yoke. The wood is not attacked by white termites.
I Seshadri Naidu, project officer
with an NGo based in Kadri in
Ananthapur district, Andhra Pradesh,
says, "There is nothing wrong in planting this sturdy plant on wastelands and
hillocks." In fact, the NGo distributed
400 kg of juliflora seeds to various farmers and undertook sowing seeds on few
barren hillocks three years back.
Around 8,100 ha were covered, of
which, 50.63 ha was wastelands.
According to Naidu, 0.405 ha ofjuliflora
plot yields 25 torme offirewood fetching
Rs 20,000 a year. A kg ofjuliflora seed is sold at Rs 40.
Dryland farmers prefer to leave the
land uncultivated to make way for
juliflora, anticipating a thick growth.
But in Pudukottai, where juliflora plants
are grown on bunds and catchment
areas, the water holding capacity of the
tanks has been considerably reduced, observe farmers.
Rampant commercialisation and
smoke-free energy sources are now
reaching the villages. But still, juliflora
serves as the single largest source of fire-wood in rural India. A study on social forestry programmes conducted by the
Bharathidasan University, Trichy, indicates that in villages, more than 60 per
cent of the households use 80 per cent of
total fuel from juliflora alone. This study
further notes that juliflora has been
obtained mainly from village commons.
Although it is believed that juliflora
can change saline soil into cultivable
soil, K Samiayyan, senior scientist, Soil
and Water Management Research
Institute, Thanjavur, says that scientific
research on both controlled and uncon-
trolled juliflora cultivation should be
undertaken to assess its effects.