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Far too many irrelevant details

Handling of Forestry Seeds in India Ram Prasad and A K Kandhya Publisher: Associated Publishing Company Price: Rs 450

By A N Chaturvedi
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

-- THE NEED for a comprehensive book on forestry seeds has long been felt. Ram Prasad's and A K Kandhya's Handling of Forestry Seeds in India is therefore a welcome addition to the existing literature in this field.

The book begins with a chapter on afforestation activity in the country and a list of the seed requirements of different states, which seems to have been taken from the official records of the state forest departments. However, the figures don't appear to have been critically analysed and, as a result, some of them are far in excess of actual needs. Plantation targets are not mentioned and without them, the quantum of seeds given is meaningless. For instance, the authors state that Punjab requires 1,500 kg of seeds, especially of the eucalyptus species. Since 1 kg of seed produces nearly two lakh plants, the figure seems over-ambitious for this small state.

Perhaps the best section of the book is the second chapter, which deals with fruit and seed structure. Several species, which the authors seem to have actually researched, are highlighted. Going through the chapter, one is struck by the great variability of Indian forest seeds.

The authors also look into the problems of planning seed collection, actual methods of collecting fruits and seeds and handling, storing and processing them. The information is based mostly on the authors' own work at the State Forest Research Institute (SFRI), Jabalpur, and partly on research abroad.Because of this, the book is too specific to Madhya Pradesh and the species found in this region.

In the three appendices provided, the first deals with seed storage data for 241 species and is based on work done at SFRI and the Forest Research Institute (FRI). Next is a table of correlation of seed weight with growth parameters for two species -- Pinus roxburghii and Pinus occarpa -- that is completely irrelevant, especially as the correlation coefficient does not even mention the degree of freedom on which these are based.

The second appendix deals with the viability and the flowering, fruiting and generation behaviour of some important forest plants of India. This is a useful addition, though once again based on published work. The third appendix talks of a model scheme that was once formed by the government, but not adopted, which makes its inclusion unnecessary.

The book contains a lot of useful information and, if the innumerable irrelevant tables had been given a miss, it could have been half its present size as well as priced much cheaper.

---A N Chaturvedi is a senior fellow of the Tata Energy Research Institute, New Delhi.

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