Re­turn of scented wood

Pri­vate cul­ti­va­tion of san­dal­wood is catch­ing up in In­dia, but it will be a long wait for farm­ers to reap benefits and for In­dia to re­gain its supremacy in the global san­dal­wood trade


Fago, farmer K C Di­nesh IVE YEARS planted 2,500 san­dal­wood saplings on four hectares (ha) of his land in Kar­nataka’s Chi­tradurga dis­trict.In 10 years, he ex­pects to earn 12-`15 crore ` from his crop.“Farm­ers from the en­tire dis­trict are vis­it­ing my farm. Every­body wants to plant san­dal­wood as it is highly prof­itable and needs least main­te­nance,”he says.

Although In­dia has long been known for its san­dal­wood ( San­talum al­bum), it is only in the past decade that farm­ers have shown in­ter­est in grow­ing the plant in their backyard. Un­til 2000, san­dal­wood was largely con­fined to the forests of Kar­nataka, Tamil Nadu and Ker­ala and plan­ta­tions of th­ese state gov­ern­ments.There was no cul­ti­va­tion on pri­vate agri­cul­tural land in the rest of the coun­try. But a pol­icy change in Kar­nataka and Tamil Nadu in 2001 and 2002 re­spec­tively al­lowed peo­ple to grow san­dal­wood.This in­spired other states.

In the past four years, 2,800 ha of agri­cul­tural land came un­der san­dal­wood cul­ti­va­tion in Gu­jarat, Andhra Pradesh, Mad­hya Pradesh, Ma­ha­rash­tra and Uttarakhand, apart from Kar­nataka and Tamil Nadu.The fig­ure is ris­ing by ap­prox­i­mately 600 ha per year, ac­cord­ing to an es­ti­mate by the In­sti­tute of Wood Science and Tech­nol­ogy (iwst), Ben­galuru, a pi­o­neer­ing in­sti­tute for san­dal­wood re­search. This will help re­vive the coun­try’s lost glory in the san­dal­wood trade.

From royal tree to peo­ple's tree

In­dia was once a world leader in san­dal­wood pro­duc­tion. In the 1960s, it pro­duced

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