Nagpur: State Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar said that 48,455 farmers in Maharashtra have voluntarily registered for forest farming and over 22 lakh fruit and other trees will be planted in their fields. This initiative is taken to increase their income and the farmers in the state have vigorously responded to the appeal of the Forest Department to take up forest farming, he said.
The Minister said that the Planning Department under the Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Guarantee Scheme had taken the decision to launch forest farming through the Social Forestry Department of Forest Department. Under this programme, fruit-bearing and other variety trees would be planted on the boundary of the fields, or on the farm lands. This includes small farmers holding up to two hectare area under the various categories.
The forest farming includes plantation of trees of 31 different categories like teak, sandal, khaya, bamboo, neem, mahogany, amla, beheda, hirda, arjun, seetafal, tamarind, acacia, anjan, khair, mango, cashew, jackfruit etc.
Mungantiwar further said that total geographical area of Maharashtra is 3.07 lakh sq km and as per the national forest policy 93, 248 sq km area should be under forest cover. At present, area under forest is 61, 570 sq km i.e. 20% of the total geographical area. It is less by 31, 248 sq km as per the national forest policy. If the forest cover in the state is to be increased up to 33% then it is not possible on the forest lands. For this it is necessary to bring other lands under forest cover, he said.
“Taking this into consideration the Forest Department has paved the way for forest farming and through that increasing employment opportunities and income. This will realize the dream of green Maharashtra,” Mungantiwar asserted. Those who are interested in this scheme can apply to concerned Gram Panchayat and take benefit of this forest farming scheme, he added.