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30 Mar 2020, Edition - 1721, Monday

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Coimbatore

How planting trees along with cash crops can help farmers

Umaima Shafiq

Planting trees on farm borders has many benefits, including recharging ground water and increasing soil fertility. Isha Velan Kadugal Thittam project head says what type trees can be planted to derive maximum benefits.

A unique scheme titled Isha Velan Kadugal Thittam has been advising Tamil Nadu farmers to plant trees along with their cash crops for past two decades.

M Tamil Maraan, the project head in Coimbatore tells The Covai Post, “Planting trees in farmlands along with cash crops will improve their livelihoods. If a farmer has one or two acres he can plant around 80-100 trees on its borders, which within 10 years will give him good income.

“Besides, the dry leaves, mulching, composting and dung from cow herding under these trees will increase soil fertility and humus content. Trees will also help recharge ground water and farm wells.”

He adds that Tamil Nadu had been doing agriculture for nearly 12,000 years, one of the oldest in the world. “Our ancestors farmed within the forests and intercropped between the trees. Thus rich harvests sustained for centuries. However, with the advent of mechanised farming, many native trees have been razed to do agriculture. Also chemical fertilizers and pesticides have decreased harvests and mineral content,” he adds.

So what kind of trees should be planted? “We study the land fertility and advise accordingly. Usually native trees like Vengai, Kadambu, Manjal Kadambu, Ven Kadambu, Teak, Marudhai, Karun Marudhai among others should be planted. The trees will improve soil fertility called ‘angahakanimam’ in Tamil, which should be around 2.5 but is now only 0.5 in Tamil Nadu. Today nearly 45 per cent of Tamil Nadu has been declared as dry lands,” says Tamil Maran.

The scheme begun in 2000 has influenced nearly 70,000 farmers to planting trees and organic farming. Initially, the saplings were being given free, but now they are sold at subsidized rates of Rs.7.

“This helps in project development. If you buy elsewhere they will be costlier. Also farmers can plant around 400 trees covering their entire acre and intercrop in between. Thus in the trees’ third year, we intercrop pepper plant creepers. Our scheme has trained nearly 1,000 people for this and planted around 30,000 pepper saplings this year. We are headquartered in Coimbatore and our services are available all over Tamil Nadu. Call us and we will come,” he said.

Isha Velan Kadugal Thittam number is 9442590068 or 9442590079.

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