PPF AFFORESTATION INITIATIVE - GAGAS RIVER BASIN, HIMALAYAS
The drive will see the of planting fourteen species of forest and fruit trees with the aim of reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide, increasing and improving soil quality, and ultimately avoiding desertification. Afforestation helps to reduce the commercial pressure on pre-existing natural forests for their products, while conserving natural trees in attempts to address the implications of global warming and climate change.
In India with only 21.54% of the geographical area covered in green. the government’s goal is to achieve 2.5-3 billion tons of carbon dioxide reduction by 2030. Forests are a well known solution to almost every climatic problem. Strategic planting of saplings will not only stabilize environmental conditions but also help income generation for resource poor communities in this region that Purearth calls home.
During the Monsoon season of 2020, self-help women groups in 8 villages united to participate in tree planting conservation activities. Fourteen species of forest and fruit trees were selected by the self-help women groups and the mature saplings were transported from two rural village nurseries set up by Grassroots over a decade ago.
INTRODUCING THE SPECIES
The women of the self-help group we work with were encouraged to plant saplings of the bada elaichi species, and learn about their benefits. Traditionally in some countries, badi elaichi is used to treat stomach disorders and malaria.
Bada Elaichi was introduced by Grassroots five years ago as a value-added crop, and has been very successful among farmers who have started to make it a part of their agricultural collection. Therefore, many women have been advised to plant the saplings of this species. As a value added crop, it is more expensive to purchase as compared to other saplings which therefore requires more support in the near future. This will enable the self-help women groups to participate in these afforestation projects.
The Afforestation Drive encourages women who are genuinely interested in cultivating value-added crops and offers an opportunity to be a part of a larger initiative. Through this drive, women are able to plant herbs such as tulsi and mint in their backyards and create a kitchen garden. These herbs do not require much water or very fertile land. One hectare of tulsi farming produces approximately 10,000 kgs of fresh leaves yielding 10-20 kgs of essential oil per hectare of land. Under irrigated conditions, the plants produce a higher yield, i.e. 20 tonnes of herbage and 40 kgs of oil per hectare.
The flowers produced per hectare of land are around 3-4 tonnes (producing approximately 25-32 kg of oil). Such a high yield crop will allow women to earn an income of their own by selling it not just as a crop but also value adds such as herbal tisanes.
it is envisioned that these kitchen herbs will convert into a supply chain for shade dried botanicals as post harvest operations, allowing income generation. Purearth uptakes the herbs at fair prices to be used in its formulations and its wellness collection.
With an initial funding from PPF of USD 2000 (1.5 lakh inr), we hope to support at least 500 women with further funding over the years to generate sustainable income.