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Plan to extend green cover launched in India

A new country-wide programme has been launched to extend green cover to 33 per cent in all states by 2012. The massive internationally supported programme is also expected to help reduce poverty by 20 per cent during this period.

Calling Greening India Project, the new initiative was formally launched at the meeting of the World Agroforestry Center’s board meeting held here last week.

Simultaneously, a new government agency, the Forest Development Agency (FDA) has been set up with its unit in each of the country’s 580 major districts to implement the project.

The World Forestry Center, also called International Council for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF), will provide technical assistance, networking and training to the FDA. It also proposes to support the establishment of a medicinal plant center in New Delhi.

ICRAF director-general Dannis Garrit said the success of the Indian agro-forestry projrct would be replicated in many other developing countries where the ICRAF was already supporting various projects. The project’s progress will be monitored by satellite imagery and reports will be presented to the Parliament.

India is estimated to have over 107 million hectares of degraded land. Of this, about 64 million hectares is categorized as wasteland. These lands are to greened through this project.

The programme aims to cover about 1,70,000 villages inhabited by tribal and other poor communities. Local people will be assisted to come above the poverty line through increased access to basic needs like food, health and education on a sustainable basis. The ICRAF’s medicinal plant center would help promote the concept of providing natural cures through herbal medicinal products, including pharmaceutical, nutriceutical and cosmeceutical products.

Source: Business Standard, April 20, 2004