Masala tree spells economic boon for landless

SARLAHI: Jasin Dhobi, 45, of Sinarjauda -2, Janakpur is counting days to harvest Eucalyptus saplings that he planted two years ago.

District Forest Office, Dhanusha had

initiated the plantation, where 12

landless households of Sinarjauda VDC were given an opportunity to plant Eucalyptus (masala) saplings.

"The officers from the District Forest Office Dhanusha negotiated and we provided the land on lease for the plantation," said Surendra Lal Karna, Principal Sinarjauda Primary School.

Eucalyptus, one of the fastest growing has a high demand in market for they are used as electricity transmission poles. "The tree is almost to harvest in five to seven years and a single tree pole costs around Rs.1500,"said Ganesh Roy, Regional Coordinator of the Project Biodiversity Sector Program for Siwaliks and the Tarai (BISEP-ST) under the Department of Forest.

According to BISEP-ST more than 800,000 saplings of Eucalyptus saplings had been distributed in Dhanusha,

Mahottari, Sarlahi, Rautahat, Bara, Parsa, Makwanpur and Chitwan over the past decade. "Conservation is not possible until and unless alternative source of earnings are provided to the needy people so we focused mainly on the poor landless communities and Eucalyptus was the most appropriate plants," said Debesh Mani Tripathi, planning officer BISEP-ST.

Meanwhile, Nanuwati Devi Sada of Musahar Tole of Govindapur -1, was all cheers while looking at the well grown Eucalyptus trees.

"I don't have any land and these 30 growing trees are keeping me hopeful to build one good shelter for my family." She expects to earn Rs.50, 000 by selling those trees. Hari Narayan Chaudhary of Laxmipur VDC, Mujarwa, Sarlahi earned Rs 100,000 after selling 100 trees last year. He has more than two hundred trees and three hundred saplings in the field, this year.

In the meantime, the government has focused on the use of public land for the

poor communities, however, the

private land owners are also being

attracted in the plantation as it has turned out to be a major source of income for many in the eastern Tarai.