By Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar: In a move to increase livelihood options in tribal-dominated areas against the backdrop of the changing climatic conditions, Odisha has decided to go in for massive pulp wood plantation covering 60,000 hectares over the next five years.
The plantation will be carried out in the public private partnership (PPP) mode, according to a note prepared by the state government.
It said the stress on pulpwood plantations would lead to a win-win situation for farmers and paper manufactures, as the project would cater to the needs of both.
Vagaries of climate and an uncertain market, as also pressure from middlemen, have led to the farmers incurring losses from crop cultivation.
“Through this PPP model, the poor farmers will get direct benefits from their produce through a direct marketing channel of the company,” said the concept note prepared by the state horticulture department.
The project will be implemented in Koraput, Rayagada, Nabrangpur, Malkangiri and Gajapati districts.
The interested industries and horticulture department would identify the farmers for pulpwood plantations, to be carried out in the horti-forestry model.
“The government will facilitate and encourage the farmers to go for pulpwood plantations if they have land. It will be a buy-back system, ensuring a win-win situation for both the farmers and the paper manufacturing companies,” Horticulture Director Susanta Nanda told IANS.
He said it would provide ample scope for sustaining a large number of agro-industries which generate immense employment opportunities.
The government expects the project to generate 20 million man days, which will uplift the socio-economic condition of the tribals.
“The farmers will enter an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the companies so that paper manufactures buy their plants for use in their industries,” Nanda said.
Odisha has a number of paper manufacturing companies, including J.K Paper and Emami Paper Mills, which will benefit from the pulpwood plantations.
“It’s a great initiative by the government. We are happy to partner with the government. The scheme would carter to the need of the company and immensely benefit the farmers in tribal areas,” a senior official of J.K. Paper, which has a paper manufacturing mill in Rayagada district, told IANS.
Many paper industries are importing raw material from Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh to run their mills as raw material is scarce in Odisha, sources said.
As the continuous rise in raw material costs is squeezing their profit margins, paper manufacturers have increased the area under pulpwood cultivation over recent years.
According to a study by Emkay Research, total sowing by leading paper producers was at 315,127 hectares in 2012-13 against 268,246 hectares in the previous year and 202,284 hectares in 2009-10 across the country.