PATNA: Chief minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday appealed to the farmers to adopt and practise agroforestry in a big way as “service to nature.” He also said it would augment their income and increase the state’s overall ‘green cover’ from 15% to targeted 17% by the end of 2022.
Addressing farmers at Krishi Vaniki Samagam convened by deputy CM and minister for environment and forest Sushil Kumar Modi, the CM said, “With so many farmers present at the meeting, I can visualize their active interest in agroforestry on private land. It will inspire many more farmers to adopt and practise it.”
The meet was convened to take farmers’ suggestions to help frame the agroforestry policy of the state on which a departmental committee set up recently has already started working. Around 800 farmers had turned up for the meet and 128 were felicitated for their exemplary performance in agroforestry.
Earlier, Modi, environment and forest department principal secretary Tripurari Sharan and principal chief conservator of forest D K Shukla presented the background on forestry activities and the sustained green cover of the state. As they put it, Bihar’s forest cover increased to 9.79% in 2011 and 12.88% in 2015, as per the reports of Forest Research Institute (FRI), Dehradun. The expected figure for 2017 is 15%.
Agriculture minister Prem Kumar said the increased green cover would help in improving ecological imbalance and climatic changes, while water resources department (WRD) minister Rajiv Ranjan Singh alias Lalan Singh said saplings should also be planted along the bunds, embankments and canals as trees would prevent their erosion during floods.
Modi said to provide institutional support and quality inputs to the government’s forestry drive, a forestry college would be opened at Munger and Bihar Institute of Tissue Culture on the pattern of one already existing at Bhagalpur for the promotion and exploitation of bamboo plantation. Besides, the committee formed to prepare the state’s agroforestry policy would submit it in March, Modi said, adding Bihar would be the first state to have it.
Curiously, the forest cover of united Jharkhand (having high density of traditional forests) and Bihar until 2000 was 17.2%, but after bifurcation the same year, Bihar was left with its traditional forest cover drastically reduced to 6% of its area.
Since coming to power in November 2005, the Nitish Kumar government has carried out forestry activities on government and public land by the environment and forests department and by involving farmers to practise forestry on their private land under agroforestry initiative.
It was done under the broader policy framework of the government’s three agriculture road maps — 2008-12, 2012-17 and now 2017-22 — involving 12 departments of the state, including agriculture, water resources and road construction department.