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Table 5.20 Nutritive Value of Food Crops
per Acre in the Region (Figures in lakhs)
There is enough evidence to support the view that land utilisation for Eucalyptus cultivation diverts land from food production in Malur. The impact of this is observed in the per capita food availability in the two regions (Table 5.21). The net availability after the sale of excess production is presented according to landownership. The net availability of dhal for consumption is practically nil in Malur taluk while in Koratagere recommended allowances are available though with wide variations. The same is true of the availability of cereals in the two regions. The interesting observation is that the difference in the mean value is significant for groups owning between 1 to 2 hectares and between 2 to 4 hectares of land which corresponds with those groups which have allotted their limited landholdings to the plantation of Eucalyptus (Table 5.18).
Table 5.21 Food A Availability per Day per individual
In Malur, nearly 30 per cent of the region surveyed was under Eucalyptus. The impacts of this change in land use on food entitlements are dramatic, showing how conflicts over land are rooted in and are a source of increased deprivation and malnutrition.
The destructive impact of Eucalyptus plantations on food production is not restricted merely to the diversion of food growing land to tree planting. This short-term loss in food production could, in principle, be made up in the long-term if the tree species planted in place of food crops had soil building properties. What differentiates Eucalyptus plantations from traditional farm forestry is that they destroy the biological productivity of rainfed ecosystems instead of enhancing it. This loss of productivity of ecosystems rather than the loss in immediate production of foodgrainsis the more critical concern in assessing the impact of Eucalyptus plantations on agriculture. The ecological impact of Eucalyptus thus generates conflicts not merely in the present, but also between future and current land use options.
A second level of food/wood conflict is generated by the ecological impact of Eucalyptus on neighbouring lands through water use and allelopathic effects which makes cultivation of food crops unproductive, and forces smaller peasants to shift from food to wood production. A follow-up study was carried out to assess further the economic impact of Eucalyptus farm forestry in these taluks. Malur taluk was revisited in 1983. The most conspicuous trend that emerged was that while the earlier initiative was restricted to large farmers, the more recent shift from food production to wood production was made by small farmers. They were forced to cultivate Eucalyptus, as food production on their lands had become difficult due to the cultivation of Eucalyptus in adjoining large holdings and the consequent reduction in moisture and nutrient availability. This expansion of Eucalyptus is concentrated around urban centres and transport networks. In Malur, sample surveys revealed that on an average 25 to 30 per cent of agricultural lands were under Eucalyptus within 10 to 11 km radius of Malur town and railway station. In villages more than 25 km away from Malur only 3 to 5 per cent of land was under Eucalyptus cultivation. It is clear from Table 5.23 that for small and marginal farmers, whose primary interest in land use lies in food production, the official claim that 'there is no alternative to Eucalyptus' is a harsh reality. Those who still want to continue food production dig trenches on the periphery of their lands to cut off the lateral roots from the neighbouring Eucalyptus plantations.
Historically, Malur, like any other rural area of India, had its community woodlots known as Gundu Thopes, covered by diverse species like honge, tamarind, neem, mango, jamun and jonne which provided fuel and green leaves as a freely available commodity to the villagers independent of economic status. In addition to these Gundu Thopes, there were good tree crops on farm bunds. This tree wealth was rapidly destroyed by the establishment of tile manufacturing industries in Malur as well as an increasing urban market demand for timber and firewood. These new commercial demands tempted the village panchayats as well as individual farmers to sell the common resources to fell trees on the farm lands in order to make money. This culture of commercialisation welcomed the introduction of commercial species like Eucalyptus and ignored the regeneration indigenous tree wealth. These landholders, who were mostly absentee landlords or were unable to manage dry land agriculture, found in Eucalyptus a return from their landholdings. For the poorer groups, the spread of Eucalyptus closed all other land use options through the ecological imperative. Thus, the indigenous rural ecosystem, which had a rich plant genetic diversity, has been reduced to a single option ecosystem with only short-term sustainability.
Area under Eucalyptus in Four Talks of Kolar District
in Next Five
|15 and above||Begepalli||4.0||3||6.0||3|
Table 5.23 Spread of Eucalyptus
Cultivation la Various Sample Villages of Malur Taluk, Kolar
|Number of Household|
|Year of Planting||Reason
The whole thrust of the Eucalyptus campaign of the forest department is based on market forces. It is wishful thinking that without a strong social organization, market forces on their own will benefit the common man, especially the poorer sections of the population who have no purchasing power to create a demand on the market. Nor have markets alone ever been able to contribute to an ecological balance anywhere in the world. To ensure social control over the utilization of natural resources? social forestry programmer need to be recast, delinking them with the market economy. That is the task of forest officials as well as of rural social organizations. Without this realization, 'social' forestry will not be able to benefit the majority of the people. Forest management in India has to abandon its strategy of providing one dimensional solutions based on a one-dimensional understanding of problems and evolve to a higher level of systems. An understanding of such systems can be seen only among practitioners of good farm forestry. It cannot be expected of foresters whose knowledge is limited to the production of commercially valuable wood, and who have no training, whatsoever, in tree farming appropriate for farm forestry. The superior knowledge of farmers for appropriate species selection of agro-ecosystems is amply illustrated by the farmers of Koratagere taluk of Tumkur district, neighbouring the district of Kolar. While land-owners in Malur have found a way out through Eucalyptus plantations, farmers in Koratagere taluk have uprooted nearly a million Eucalyptus seedlings in an attempt to prevent its spread to the neighbouring farm lands. In order to understand the rational basis of the action of Koratagere farmers, the study of farm forestry in Kolar was extended to Koratagere in the second half of 1983. The study showed that in spite of receiving nearly 100 mm less rainfall than Malur taluk where Eucalyptus is being propagated, the farmers of Koratagere have created and sustained a rich and diverse farm forest resource, closely interlinked with their agricultural practices and ensuring ecological stability and guarantee against drought. The nursery techniques and propagation methods of a large variety of tree species are part of the rich knowledge of the farmers of Koratagere. These farmers cannot understand why Rs. 550 million of a World Bank loan would be needed for social forestry in Karnataka when people have the knowledge as well as the resources to create tree wealth independently. The main species on which farming in Koratagere depends are:
An evaluation and comparison of different models reveals that the model of farm forestry followed by the farmers of Koratagere is the only one that can be called genuine farm forestry. The model has not been evolved by a stagnant and tradition bound group of farmers but a highly innovative and dynamic one. As a response to the degradation of forest resources, the farmers of Koratagere selected a few useful tree species for intense afforestation on the farm lands. The success of farm forestry based on highly useful and indigenous species is, however, a product of hard labour backed by continuous research and innovation. These farmers have observed that a woody perennial like tamarind provides adequate insurance of economic return over two or three years of continuous drought, while at the same time contributes to soil fertility with leaves and flowers.
In terms of economic returns, the Koratagere model of farm forestry is definitely far better than the Eucalyptus based farm forestry adopted by the big landlords of Malur. The difference, however, is in the approach of the farmers and their degree of attachment to or alienation from their own land. The Koratagere model is not a unique feature of that area. Inter-cropping of trees with food crops has been a common practice all over India.
On the same lines as the Koratagere model of farm forestry, Chaturvedi (1946) has worked out a model of agro-forestry that would increase fuel and fodder availability without adversely affecting food production. Recommending the planting of babul as an agro-forestry species on the agricultural land of the Gangetic plains, he showed that it was possible to create farm forests equivalent to two million acres of pure babul plantations, twice the area of reserved forests in the region without any decline in food production.
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