RAJKOT: In coming years, the cost of ‘Made in Gujarat’ home furtniture could come down significantly, if plantation of this tree picks up state wide.
Farmers in almost all districts of Saurashtra have taken to plantation of Malabar Neem(melia dubia), a tree native to Karnataka, on massive scale. In fact, in 2017 alone, nearly 40 lakh Malabar neem were planted across the region, barring a couple of districts. The wood of this tree is extensively used for making furniture but plywood makers in the state presently procure it from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and the southern states.Moreover, Malabar neem is preferable for farmers as it requires less watering, pesticides and climate change does not affect its growth. Also, there is hardly any labour cost involved and neither they are eaten by nil gais (blue bulls), who otherwise ravage the standing crop.Most importantly, its a cash-churning tree for growers. Manibhai Patel, an agriculture expert working to promote melia dubia, said, “Farmers can get Rs 12 lakh as return per acre after eight years. Simultaneously, they can can take sow other fruits or vegetables between these trees as the distance between them is at least 10 feet.”
Farmers earlier grew eucalyptus, whose wood is used in plywood industry. but the plantations are affected due to declining groundwater level. . It’s peeling qualities also help to get the best veneers for the plywood industry.Jikesh Thakkar, a member of Board of Governance of Indian Plywood Industries Research Institute, said “Currently, plywood is brought from southern states or imported. In south India, governments are encouraging farmers to grow this tree. If industry gets this product from Gujarat, it will reduce the production cost by 30%. There are units in Gujarat, especially in Kandla, who have shut the business. These also can be revived. they can reviveBhavesh Savalia, a native of Amreli district and having business in Ankleshwar, had almost decided to sell of 12 acre land in the native Ghanshyampur village near Savarkundla. His parents’ health was deteriorating and there was nobody to do farming on his land. Labour cost was also pretty high. But two years ago, he changed his mind after someone told him to start growing Malabar Neem on his land. After 21 months, Savalia is relieved that he did not sell off the land, thanks to the growth of these trees, which have assured him handsome returns in the next few years.
“I planted these trees in the last 21 months and they don’t require any maintenance or water. Last year monsoon was not good but it did not affect these trees,” said Savalia.