CULTIVATION OF SANDALWOOD

The present scenario of Sandalwood in the country is that it has gravely declined due to exploitation and the unfortunate event of deforestation.

According to the EMS policy of the company, along with the liberal policy of the Government of Karnataka, KSDL has started propagating ‘grow more sandalwood’ programme., Buy Back arrangements(annexure A) have been made with farmers and entrepreneurs and this encourages them to take up the commercial cultivation of sandalwood, on ‘share and prosper’ basis along with host plants like Chikku, Amla, Drumsticks, Curryleaves, Casurina, Acasia, Dalbargia Latifolia which are capable of reducing the gestation period for Sandalwood.  This scheme is aimed at creating large scale rural employment, alleviation of poverty, reduction in global warming by increasing the forest cover of Karnataka state, and establish Karnataka as’ Srigandhada Nadu’ – The land of Sandalwood. This will help the country regain its past glory when it was popular for being the largest producer of Sandalwood. The eventual momentum has picked up here in India, thanks to the support of M/s NMPB New Delhi, NHM. So far, it is estimated that 470 farmers have come forward in the state for the commercial cultivation of Sandalwood and entered a MoU under buy back arrangements for over 2000 acres of land. 

Many Institutions, Entrepreneurs, Public sector and Private sector companies, have shown great interest in growing Sandalwood and purchasing Sandalwood saplings. This trend is fast growing in Karnataka and spreading to other states of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat.  Meanwhile, the Govt of Karnataka has enabled KSDL and KSHDC to purchase adult Sandalwood tress directly from the ‘owners’, defined under the Karnataka Forest Rules vide Notification No.FEE 21 FSW 2008, dated: 11.07.2008 which includes purchase of the Sandalwood from public sector undertaking / defence, department /para military organizations on whose land the Sandalwood is cultivated or grown naturally, who are treated as ‘owner’ as per Rule 103 (CF) Karnataka Forest Rules 1969 (as amended). KSDL has entered an agreement as per annexure B, with the growers of Sandalwood trees directly, according to the rates fixed by the government of Karnataka. There exists high quality governance that ensures fairness, accountability and transparency in all the dealings of Sandalwood. 

Additionally, KSDL and KSHDC, have entered an MoU for the joint sourcing of Sandalwood as PSU’s .  KSDL is  looking for naturally grown  sandalwood for captive consumption . This mutually benefits  the Sandalwood Grower & KS&DL.

As an initiative to conserve Sandalwood and based on an EMS policy of the company, KSDL has initiated action to replant Sandalwood saplings every time there is extraction of Sandalwood trees . This has been successfully carried out with the cooperation of the Forest Department.

A Sandalwood nursery can be grown Farm Yard Mixture (FYM) , bio-fertilizers and wormy compost mixture. These would be adequate nutrients for the development of seedlings. Since Sandalwood plants are less adversely affected by fungi and insects especially during the early stages of growth pest control measures is not much required.

It is a false belief that Sandalwood grown in natural forests alone produce scented heartwood and that Sandalwood grown in other regions do not. Actually, Sandalwood can be grown in a variety of soil  with pH ranging 6-8, and temperature ranging 5-50 C. It is not region specific and can adopt to various environmental conditions. With irrigation and bio-fertilization, the results are exceedingly good. Sometimes the Sandalwood is better than the forest grown ones. In forests under natural conditions, the Sandalwood trees take up to 7 years to produce scented heartwood and sometimes its growth is obstructed by vegetation, fire, grazing and human interventions. Under such stressful conditions fully developed trees require 30-35 years for harvesting. Whereas the plantation grown trees, along with inter plantation with good host plants can produce heartwood in about 3-4 years and develop good heartwood measuring in diameter 15cm-25cm in a span of 12-15 years. Harvesting at this stage is much more economically friendly, and commercially viable.

Irrigation that is timely, Organic Manure, soil work, pruning, providing good host plants are the ways in which good Sandalwood can be grown . It is important to note that Sandalwood is a partial parasitic tree and requires another host tree/s by its side for its nutrients.

Farming  that  is sustainable and promotes the interdependence between man and nature is Organic farming. Organic farming dates back to a very long time ago in history,. and includes many traditional farming methodologies. It is known to enhance Agro – Ecosystem health, Biodiversity, and Natural Biological cycles including soil activity.

Organic farming is a must, and essential, since the industrial methods of farming are harmful and adversely affect the ecological system because it consumes and destroys more than what it can produce in the long run. The problems created under industrial farming include reduced genetic diversity, vulnerability to pests, soil erosion, water shortages, reduction in soil fertility, soil contamination, reduction in micro-nutrients.

 

Features of Organic farming:
  • It is feasible to a maximum extent. It relies on crop rotation, animal wastes, crop residues,  mineral bearing rocks.
  • Uses features of biological pest control to maintain soil productivity, to supply plant nutrients, to control pests, weeds and insects.
  • It is very capable of maintaining productivity and usefulness for an indefinite period of time.  It is resource-conserving, socially and economically supportive, commercially competitive and environmentally friendly.
  • Sandalwood cultivation is a good case and a natural choice for Organic Farming with a good host plant/ inter plantation.
  • The focus is not reaping benefits yearly, but the cultivation of the plant over a long period of time , for about 12-15 years. 
  • Sandalwood growth process is not dependent on pesticides or fertilizers.
  • Sandalwood growing does not require intense irrigation.