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Marayur sandalwood seeds find many takers

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Marayur sandalwood is set to cross its borders.

An initiative is on to distribute its seeds to government agencies and individuals keen on planting them.

Every year from October to December, seeds are collected by select members of the Vana Samrakshana Samiti (VSS) of the Marayur

Sandalwood Division. “This time we hope that the demand could be met to an extent as few unripe seeds fell in August and September as the climate was favourable,” said Marayur range officer M.G. Vinodkumar.

Seeds were collected from mature and healthy middle-aged trees to keep the quality, he said, adding that a kilogram of sandalwood seeds was sold at ₹2,000,

Buyers

The main buyers are government departments, including forest authorities in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. “However, we get orders from as far away as Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

Last year the quantity of seed collected was less as unripe seeds had fallen following winds, he said.

Though there are nearly 56,000 sandalwood trees in the reserve, seeds are collected from only 5,000 healthy trees in the two divisions of Marayur and Kanthallur. Last year the price of a kg of seeds was ₹1,500. A kg consists of nearly 2,500 seeds and around 200 women are engaged in seed collection.

₹40 lakh last year

“Last year we collected 2,630 kg of seeds and got an income of ₹40 lakh. This year we aim at collecting 5,000 kg of seeds,” he said.

This is in addition to the sandalwood saplings developed from the seeds and supplied by the sandalwood division. “The buyer can grow the seeds anywhere,” he said, adding that climate similar to that of Marayur was the most suited.

Income to tribes

Marayur Divisional Forest officer B. Ranjith said the seed collection was done through participatory management and provided an income to the tribespeople. Last year, ₹8 lakh was given to them, giving them an income during the pandemic period, he said.

The collectors will be given ₹400 a kg this year. A person can collect up to 4 kg of seeds in a day. Mr. Vinodkumar said that the focus was on spreading the Marayur sandalwood in other forest areas,

including in other States. This would provide a good income to the tribespeople and a good revenue to the exchequer. “The massive seed collection was started two years ago though the VSS had directly sold it for many years,” he said.

A percent of the revenue went to the VSS and for activities related to sandalwood protection in the two divisions, he said.



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