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Case studies of
Troolcal Research 9--.
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FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGAN I IOn
E UNITED NATIONS
Case studies of
Tropical Research I
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- iii -
Great interest, both in India and elsewhere, has been shown in
the Gujarat forestry experience involving local participation. In
1982, FAO was requested by the Government of India to support a study
of forestry activities in Gujarat. This study Evaluation of the
Gujarat Social Forestry Programme, was published in 1985. Although it
produced new information, it also pointed out the need for case
studies which would examine the dynamics of farm forestry, as well as
the benefits and costs to farmers,and the perception of these costs
and benefits of the rural people involved, especially the poor.
The case studies presented in this document were carried out by
Dr. Shobhita Jain under the direction of M. Hoskins. In doing the
studies, Dr. Jain has analysed some of the questions raised by
previous reports through indepth case studies of various social groups
in different communities and involved in contrasting forestry schemes.
She first places each case study in relation to the market economy.
Her findings and insights shed light on the complexities of successful
farm forestry and on the danger of generalizing, especially on such
issues as trees replacing food crops or conflicts of goals between the
forest service and participating farmers.
The success she describes of large-scale farmers includes
current efforts to diversify species for a broader market. Small
scale farmers, on the other hand, are found to be in need of support
services such as market information and assistance in the organization
of buying and selling cooperatives.
The success seen in the tribal cooperative movement requires
support of NGO and government services. Dr. Jain also raises
questions of self help and continuity, in situations in which
large-scale outside support is used to produce change.
This is one of a series of case studies produced by the
Community Forestry Unit of the Policy and Planning Service of FAO.
This series is being developed in order to provide insights into the
functioning, dynamics and impacts of various community forestry
interventions especially as seen by the rural people themselves. The
case study series is being funded by the Swedish International
M.R. de Montalembert
Chief, Policy and Planning Service
~-".. ~u"-~i ~
- 1 -
1. What is Farm Forestry?
Farm forestry can be defined as the practice of growing trees on
privately owned agricultural land and waste land, including degraded
forests. It has been described by the World Bank as "the least costly
and economically the most effective approach to afforestation of the
rural areas" (World Bank Report, as quoted in CSE Report 1985: 53).
If farm forestry can be shown to be economically viable for rural
farmers with farms of varying sizes, great gains can be made in
afforestation efforts. However, it is yet to be established how the
returns from farm forestry compare with incomes from other forms of
land use and how the farmers' productive capacity and access to
necessary inputs affect the duration of their interest in growing
trees. This paper discusses the costs and benefits of farm forestry
from the standpoint of its practitioners. It also examines the
adoption of farm forestry by both large and small-scale farmers and by
landless agricultural labourers including marginal farmers owning
2. Basis of Selection of the Cases Studied
The locations selected for the case studies can in no way be
considered random and the number of cases was limited. The
information, therefore, should be considered illustrative and
conclusions cannot be generalized to all of India or even all of
Gujarat. The sites were selected in areas in which there was high
participation in farm forestry so effects could be determined. The
sites selected were those with an extended period of experience with
farm forestry so farmers had had a chance to observe and develop
informed views. Case studies were also purposely selected to provide
contrasts in the type of institutional support offered to farmers.
2.1 Farmers' Participation in Farm Forestry
In Gujarat, rural populations have been involved in tree planting
activities for many years. Three districts, Bhavnagar, Valsad and
Kheda, were selected from three areas which, until 1984, accounted for
nearly 70 per cent of the total number of seedlings planted under farm
forestry. A little over 70 million seedlings (35 per cent of the
total number of seedlings distributed), were planted by farmers of
Bhavnagar. Farmers in Valsad and Kheda districts received 33 and 30
million seedlings, respectively. Bhavnagar has about 60% of its land
under cultivation; Kheda district has more wasteland and is heavily
rural, and Valsad, with about 60% of its land under cultivation, has a
large population of tribals and landless labourers.
Since 1978-9, the farmers of Bhavnagar and Kheda districts have
been involved in tree planting activities on a considerable scale.
Their experiences of nearly a decade in growing, harvesting and
marketing tree products highlight some of the major problems they have
faced in farm forestry. While the tribals of Valsad district
officially started farm forestry only in 1982, tribal economy and
culture has always been characterized by their involvement with
forests and forest products.
Each district has a different system of project management,
providing examples of farm forestry on wasteland, including degraded
forests. Previous evaluations of Gujarat's social forestry projects
have not looked closely at these forms of tree planting activities.
They are significant for showing how not only farmers but also
landless agricultural labourers and marginal farmers with unproductive
land can participate in farm forestry.
2.2 Institutional Support
Non-governmental organizations in some areas of Gujarat have
attempted to provide institutional support for long-term improvement
in the overall condition of their target-groups by providing access to
credit, material inputs and market services. Considerable support is
reported to have been given to the farmers in such areas as the
Bhavnagar district by the Forest Department (see EGSFP Report 1986:
115). Various types of institutional support provided by the Forest
Department have been compared with those of non-governmental
organizations in terms of their respective abilities to generate a
durable interest in growing trees among the rural people. In some
cases these two types of institutions have joined forces.
Both large and small farmers were visited and the cost-benefit
ratio of tree planting activities was discussed with thfm. The
experiences of farmers in Jaspara village of Palitana Taluka
illustrate the possible difficulties that small farmers may face in
selling polewood. Farmers in Valsad and Kheda districts had little
contact with the Forest Department, but more contact with
non-governmental organizations than did farmers in Bhavnagar. In
Kheda district, the Behavioural Science Center (BSC) played an
important role. In Valsad, it was the Bharatiya Agro-Industries
Foundation (BAIF) which had most influence on farm forestry.
3. Commercialisation of Agriculture in Gujarat
In any area where cultivators produce for the market, leading to
the commercialization of agriculture, there are ideal conditions for
the adoption of lucrative cash crops. In Gujarat, from the 1850s
onwards, the capitalist transformation of agriculture (accelerated by
the development of communications) resulted in the formation of a
class of capitalist farmers (see Chua 1986). Experience and expertise
in procuring and handling cash have existed among Gujarat farmers for
more than a century through the cultivation of cash crops such as
cotton, tobacco, and groundnut. One calculation estimated that on the
first harvest of trees grown in farm forestry, the internal rate of
return is 129 per cent, with a calculated increase in this rate to 213
per cent for successive coppice crops (Gupta 1979: 118). It is
therefore not surprising that by 1984 the farmers of Gujarat had
planted 195 million seedlings, distributed free of charge by the
1. These cooperatives are better known among the villagers by their
local names. Started in 1957, one such cooperative is called
RaJkot Lodhika Sangh. It has about 100 member cooperative
societies and 5 000 Individual members. GROFED is another
cooperative which began in 1979 by organizing 1 000 village-level
cooperative societies of groundnut growers in the region.
3.1 Pattern of Land Use for Cash Crops
The process of change in the pattern of land use from annual food
crops to cash crops began in Gujarat long before cash trees crop were
planted on farms. Even in 1961 (see Census of India, Gujarat 1961:
78) the state was "substantially deficient in the matter of
food-grains" while "in the production of commercial crops like cotton,
groundnut and tobacco" it occupied "an important place in the
agricultural economy of the country". So the argument of "extensive
foodgrains being replaced by Eucalyptus plantations" (CSE Report 1985:
51-2) can not be generalised and must be seen case by case.
According to an estimate by the Chief Conservator of Forests,
Ahmedabad, only 5 to 6 per cent of Gujarat farmers have adopted farm
forestry; of this number only 0.05 per cent may have replaced food
crops by tree crops. In his view, small farmers with less than 2
hectares of land have planted only on the peripheries of their farms,
while the middle and larger farmers have opted for block planting.
Available statistics conflict on this point. According to Patel
(1984) a study of 7,000 farmers showed that 14 per cent of the land
under cash crops and 6.4 per cent of the land under food crops were
converted to farm forestry. The EGSFP Report (1986: 128) reveals
percentages that were even higher.
3.2 Food Crops as Commodity Production
In view of the considerable trade in foodgrains, one should
expect a significant proportion of the cultivation of foodcrops in
Gujarat to become commodity production. Presumably, therefore,
foodgrains are cultivated not only for subsistence but also for
feeding those involved in growing cash crops. Farmers thus produce
and sell on the basis of profit calculus. Even if some farmers decide
to replace foodgrains by trees on their farms, this would not
necessarily mean a loss of subsistence for their families. It is
possible that these farmers have calculated the potential return from
trees to be higher than that from surplus foodgrains.
This is not to say that there may not have been any problems of
food security in the adoption of farm forestry by small farmers. In
general, however, local patterns of land use and commodity production
in the agricultural economy of Gujarat, coupled with free distribution
of seedlings by the government, have provided a favourable setting for
the adoption of tree crops by farmers, especially those who produce
for the market.
3.3 Farm forestry for the Market
Farmers in Gujarat have taken to planting trees for the market
because the planners' view of social forestry for increasing the
"supplies of fuelwood in rural areas" (FAO Report 1985: 13) has found
little credibility with them. Blair (1986: 1317-21), analyses the
problem of difference in perception between the planners and the
practititioners of social forestry projects, but the farmers,
including small and marginal farmers, almost all fail to explicitly
recognise the need for fuelwood and fodder. Despite receiving
considerable supplies of fuelwood, fodder and other tree products for
household use from farm forestry, they simply do not count these as
tangible benefits. In their eyes, trees have to compete with other
cash crops in terms of marketability. This strong orientation towards
the market and the cash value of tree products has to be the main
theme of any study dealing with farm forestry in rural areas where
subsistence farming has now assumed a secondary place in the
Description and analysis
1. Use of privately owned agricultural land
for farm forestry by the large and small
farmers of Bhavnagar district
1.1 The Extent of Farm Forestry in the District
In Bhavnagar district during the period 1980-4, a little over
11 million and much over 58 million plants were grown under farm
forestry on irrigatied and unirrigated lands, respectively. Farmers
of no other district in the state showed enthusiasm for cultivating
trees to this extent. Both large and small farmers adopted farm
forestry, in expectation of a high internal rate of return; Eucalyptus
(Eucalyptus spp.), considered to be a very remunerative crop, was
generally the species of choice.
Profile of Bhavnagar District
Farm Forestry in Bhavnagar District:
Only 17.9% of cultivated land in the district is cultivable
Major foodgrains: bajri (Pennisetum typhoides), jowar
(millet), wheat (Treticum, aestivum), rice
Cash crops: groundnuts, cotton, mangoes, coconuts
Cooperative societies are important primarily agricultural
credit societies, advancing short- and medium-term loans to
members for purchasing agricultural material inputs
33% of the population is employed by 2 major industries:
cotton textile and food products manufacturing
72% of the villages in the district have electricity
Before 1979 (before farm forestry)
60% of land under cultivation; less than 3% forests
>50% of cultivated land was in cash crops: groundnuts and
cotton; remainder was in food crops: bajri, jowar, wheat,
rice, gram tur, and mung
yield/hectare increased for some crops (e.g. in 1971, yield was
1,394 kg/ha; in 1981, yield increased to 2,520 kg/ha)
yield did not increase for groundnuts; farmers were interested
in replacing it with tree crops
1.2 The Case of a Large Farmer in Sihor Talkuka of Bhavnagar
Vithubhai Patel is a progressive farmer who cultivates forest
trees according to high density planting techniques. He believes that
the future of energy plantations, i.e., the cultivation of trees for
producing fuelwood and power, is quite promising in Gujarat. He
himself grows high-cost trees like Eucalyptus, teak (Tectona grandis)
and sandalwood for timber.
1.2.1 The history of the involvement of the Patel family in the
cultivation of fruit trees and subsequent adoption of farm
The Patel family originally practiced the cultivation of ber
(Ziziphus mauritiana Lam.), a locally grown nutritious fruit. Until
1978, ber and other fruits such as guava, lemon and sapota were the
only crops on this farm. By applying cultivation methods used on
conventional fieldcrops to fruits, the farm produced a superior
quality commodity which enabled the farmer to earn large profits.
Encouraged by this, the family decided to take up farm forestry.
Fruit cultivation was also continued.
1.2.2 Role of the Forest Department
In 1978, the farm obtained free seedlings, primarily for
Eucalyptus and subaval (Leucaena leucocephala), from the Forest
Department nursery in Sihor. Later, in 1984, slower-growing species
of forest trees such as teak and neem (Azadirachta indica) were
acquired to obtain more valuable timber. In both enterprises the farm
was given technical help by the Forest Department. Although Patel was
initially helped and encouraged by foresters, he is now seen to be in
a position to give them advice regarding his techniques of planting
and maintaining both fast- and slow-growing species of forest trees.
1.2.3 The pattern of intensive cropping on the farm
The Patel farm is on 24 ha. (58.28 acres) in a semi-arid zone.
The region has suffered from three consecutive years of drought and
famine in the past eight years (1978-86). Only 8 ha. (21.76 acres)
and 3 ha. (7.4 acres) have been devoted to the cultivation of fast-
and slow-growing forest trees respectively. The remaining land on the
farm continues to produce fruit trees.
Patel selected close spacing of 45 cm x 45 cm and 60 cm x 60 cm
to plant Eucalyptus and subavul, respectively. Thus, on average,
there were 25,000 trees per ha. (10,000 trees per acre). Harvesting
was planned for the fourth year. In order to ensure a high survival
rate, a mixture of organic manure, good clayey soils, B.H.C. dust
(10 per cent) and chemical fertilizer (NPK) was filled into holes
bored in the pits in which the seedlings were planted.
During each rainy season and summer the soil was worked once a
month by a power tiller, so that the soil retained more water.
Irrigation was carried out by sprinklers once a week during the summer
months (March to June) and once a month during winter (October to
February). During the monsoon months (July to September) no
irrigation was required unless the monsoon rains failed. Nearly
600 kg. of urea was annually applied to each acre.
1.2.4 Costs and benefits from farm forestry
Over a period of four years (1978-82) the family spent about Rs.
8,700 per acre on material inputs for field preparation, irrigation,
application of fertilisers and insecticides, and on cutting 3,000
trees in the fourth year.
The other inputs (hours of labour) for four years came to about
Rs. 5,700. Thus Patel had to borrow about Rs. 14,500 from the bank,
with an added interest of nearly Rs. 3,000, charged at the rate of
12.50 per cent. Patel's total cost came to Rs. 17,500 for each acre
of land used to cultivate forest trees.
So far the family has harvested five times and shown increasing
profits with each successive year. A three-year cutting cycle has
been established. Preferring the pattern of selective cutting, in the
fourth year (1982) Patel harvested the best one-third of the trees
(i.e. 3,000 trees per acre), cutting the second best in the fifth
year. The remaining one-third was left for the sixth year's harvest.
In the seventh year after planting, trees cut in the fourth year were
ready to be harvested again. This pattern provided him with a
continuous harvest and thereby a regular income from the trees.
Each tree produced an average of 12 kg. of marketable wood,
1.5 kg. of marketable fuelwood and 1.5 kg. of unmarketable wood. The
first two categories of wood were sold while the last one was
collected by the farm labourers who were asked to put some aside for
Patel's family and take the rest for their own use. Giving away
unmarketable wood to the labourers was justified on the grounds that
otherwise Patel would have had to pay for its removal.
In terms of biomass per acre per year with 10,000 trees per acre
Patel's farm produced 36 tonnes of timber (or 90 tonnes per ha. pe
year), 4.5 tonnes of fuelwood for the market and 4.5 tonnes oi
fuelwood for domestic use.
Sale of timber
The timber and fuelwood were sold only to those buyers who would
collect the products from the farm. The price per tree was in the
range of Rs. 16 to 40 from the first harvest, so that in the fourth
year of farm forestry Patel received an income of Rs. 31,700; this was
more than doubled in the fifth year. An income of Rs.
127,000 against the cost of Rs. 25,000 in the sixth year gave the
farmer a cost-benefit ratio of 1:5.08.
Generally speaking, in this region where other cash crops such as
groundnut and cotton are grown extensively, a cost-benefit ratio of
1:2 is considered to indicate a successful enterprise. An enterprise
with a cost-benefit ratio of 1:5.08 in a three year cycle of
harvesting could, in comparison, be described as highly successful.
1.2.5 Labour management
Before 1978, i.e., before Patel adopted the cultivation of forest
trees, the labour requirement on his farm was between 80 and 100
labourers, hired on a daily basis. Now only 40 labourers on daily
wages are employed on a permanent basis. Another 20 labourers are
hired at each harvest. There has thus been nearly a 50 per cent
reduction in labour employment on this farm. The daily wages given to
each labourer in December 1986 were Rs. 12.00 per day for 8 hours of
work, after which they had to be paid according to an overtime rate of
Rs. 4 per hour.
Patel expects the daily wages for labour to increase, but can not
foresee any reduction in his requirements. He has provided
accommodation of one room each to six labour families. These
labourers supervise the work of others hired from outside. They get
free housing, water, fuelwood and fodder on the farm, while the
outside labour is allowed to collect the unmarketable fuelwood and a
few headloads of grass for fodder.
1.2.6 Problems on the farm
Eight years of farm forestry experience has given the Patel
family full confidence in the usefulness of growing trees on a
commercial basis. To increase their gains, Patel is presently
experimenting with the cultivation of sandalwood. As more and more
farmers are drawn to farm forestry, Patel expects the saturation of
the market for ordinary polewood and therefore wants to expand his
cultivation of more expensive timbers such as teak and sandalwood.
Patel was initially faced with the problem of unmarketable lops
which remained on the farm even after providing for the domestic needs
of his family and the labourers. In October 1985, he adopted a
practice to remedy this. The farm now operates a gasifier plant,
generating 100 kw. of power, which is used by the Gujarat Electricity
Board. This project is part of a scheme devised by M/S Jyoti Limited,
Baroda, working for the Gujarat Energy Development Agency (GEDA). By
joining the scheme, Patel is able to sell previously unmarketable wood
or Rs. 300 per tonne. The wood to be used in the gasifier plant has
to be cut into pieces of 15 to 25 cm, requiring the labour of two
persons each day. A power saw is used for efficient cutting.
On this farm, therefore, the problems of market saturation and a
surplus of unmarketable wood have been effectively solved.
1.2.7 Outlook on future prospects of the farm
In addition to earning large profits for the Patel family, this
particular farm has provided a model for developing tree plantations
on the basis of its techniques of high density planting and intensive
use of fertilisers and irrigation. Trees planted under these
conditions show a survival rate of 90 per cent and give at least 30
per cent of their total biomass in the form of fuelwood. Patel, a
trained engineer, has also worked with the Centre for Monitoring
Indian Economy, Bombay, on the development of a strategy for high
density agroforestry. His collaboration with M/S Jyoti Limited,
Baroda, resulted in the generation of power from surplus wood. Thus,
he is not only a successful farmer, but also an agent of change in the
existing methods and uses of farm forestry.
As a capitalist farmer, Patel is able to participate in farm
forestry with sufficient capital, labour resources and a number of
alternatives if any problems arise. He has the resources to use
inputs such as fertilisers and irrigation to increase production.
With his firm base in fruit cultivation he was able to take the risk
of investing in tree planting activities. He had to divert only a
part of his land to tree crops with little effect on the production of
other cash crops and could therefore afford to wait for four years to
get benefits from farm forestry. At harvest too, he is in a strong
position to bargain for a good price for his polewood. As an educated
and resourceful farmer, he was also in a better position to make use
of the incentives provided by the government to encourage farm
The complex networks of polewood, fuelwood and charcoal
producers, distributors, sellers and buyers in urban areas are mostly
organized within the informal sector of the wood economy. For a
farmer who is already familiar with another informal sector, i.e.,
that of the fruit economy, it is not difficult to follow the complex
workings of such a market and thereby to anticipate its trends and
1.3 Involvement of Small Farmers in Farm Forestry
Most small farmers in Bhavnagar practice rainfed arable farming
and opt for cropping patterns of a mixed nature. Due to the pressure
of population and the need for both grain and cash crops, they follow
more intensive cultivation patterns even in low-rainfall areas. They
generally practice intensive land use for agricultural crops. If
small farmers cultivating only agricultural crops decide to adopt farm
forestry, they plant forest trees on the peripheries of their farm,
while those cultivating cash crops may opt for block planting on a
portion of their farm. Both these alternatives were in use in
December 1986 in the villages of Jaspara and Anida of Palitana Taluka.
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Jaspara and Anida Two Villages in
Jaspara village in Thalaja Taluka :
small (133 families)
area: 2,524 acres, of which 2,309 is under cultivation, 81
acres are grazing lands, 134 acres are not cultivated; 450
acres are irrigable by canal, well, and tap water
Food crops: bajri (Pennigetum typhoides), jowar (millet), and
wheat (Treticum aestivum) Where irrigated: groundnuts,
cotton, fruit trees sapotaa, lime, ber, guava)
Anida village in Palitant Taluka:
more irrigated land available
cash crops (fruits, groundnuts) more common
horticulture and dairy farming
intensive farming without chemical fertilizers
Health conditions in both villages:
most houses have hand pumps for water
only large farmers have lavatories
-no primary health centre
most farmers said households had sufficient food
no obvious signs of malnutrition among children
mortality rate among children almost zero; also low among women
children under 5 years suffer most from malaria, diptheria, and
infants breast-fed until 1 1/2; given solid food at 6 months
(rice and pulses with milk); after 12 months, given unleavened
wheat bread with milk
low mortality rates attributed to availability of milk and
other dairy products (buttermilk is supplied free to
2. The villagers in Jaspara said that the village is located In
Palitana Taluka whereas a subsequent check of the census records
revealed only one village by this name in Bhavnagar District,
included in Talaja Taluka. Another check with the local persons
again shows that notwithstanding the census records, Jaspara
village is in Palitana Taluka.
3. Tushar Shah and Srikant Modak (1984) show that 50 per cent of
cultivation In the region Is devoted to commercial agriculture.
Even bajra, which is primarily a subsistence crop, is now found
in the market; only the produce of jowar is fully retained for
family consumption while all other crops are marketed.
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1.3.1 Introduction of farm forestry among the villagers
A local non-governmental organization, Lokbharati (an educational
institution for rural studies), was approached by the Forest
Department to cooperate in a scheme for introducing farm forestry
among the villagers. Lokbharati was already involved in extension
work among 250 farmers from 10 villages of the area, teaching them
techniques of intensive farming with the use of organic manure and no
chemical fertilisers. With its good network of contacts in rural
areas, Lokbharati agreed to speak to farmers about cultivating forest
trees. Lokbharati representatives accompanied the foresters and
explained to the farmers about the usefulness of farm forestry.
During an interview on 18 December 1986 one of them said:
"We at Lokbharati were also quite convinced of the advantages of
growing trees and consequently planted about 10 000 Eucalyptus,
saru and subavul on our campus. But now we realise that while
asking the farmers to grow trees we had not clearly thought about
how they would actually derive benefits from them. We assumed
that the foresters had taken care of those aspects."
Farm forestry on Lokbharati Campus
1.3.2 Farmers' perception of why they planted trees
Most farmers practicing farm forestry in Jaspara village agreed
with what Majorbhai, owner of 4 acres of irrigated land, had to say:
"We were approached by the officials of the Forest Department,
who came with the workers of Lokbharati. In the past, we were
assisted by the Lokbharati bhai (brothers) in increasing the
yields of our wheat and groundnut crops by 25 per cent. Now,
when they advised us to follow the suggestions of the forester
'saheb' we considered that as 'progressive farmers' we should try
the new crop. In any case, to grow cotton was no longer
profitable and according to both the Lokbharati bhai and the
- 12 -
foresters, trees promised to be a high-profit crop. Thus, along
with 14 of us who opted for block planting of Eucalyptus in small
sections of our fields, another 60 farmers agreed to plant them
on the boundaries. During 1982-3 about 200 acres of land in
Jaspara were planted with 230 000 saplings...We were told by the
forest official that even with a poor survival, say 50 per cent
in the event of drought, in four years we could earn about Rs.
100,000 per 10,000 trees.
Having invested heavily in planting and maintaining the trees, we
waited patiently for four years. Now it is the end of 1986 and
we have not been able to sell the trees. There are no
buyers...The Lokbharati workers are hiding from us and the Forest
Department official who used to visit us has been transferred to
another place, so we have nobody to turn to. We see this
business of farm forestry as a disaster for our people."
1.3.3 Cost-benefit analysis, provided by farm families
Case 1 Murjibhal provided the following figures of costs per
acre for the entire period of four years (1982-6) for Eucalyptus
cultivation on his farm.
Material and other inputs
Transportation of seedlings from Sihor nursery
at Rs. 150 per trip Rs. 450
Seedlings, obtained free of cost from the Forest
Department nursery at Sihor
Five bags of urea at Rs. 250 per bag 1250
Two bags of Gramaxine at Rs. 110 per bag 220
Irrigation in the first two years 2000
Labour during planting and harvesting 2000
Interest on bank loan at 12.5 per cent 750
Total cost of planting, maintaining and harvesting
of Eucalyptus trees on one acre of land for
four years Rs. 6670
Cost-benefit ratio The survival rate of Eucalyptus on
Murjibhai's farm was about 60 per cent: out of 7 000 saplings
planted, he was able to harvest 4 000 trees. Because of a shortage of
water in the three-year drought period (1983-6), despite irrigation
facilities on his farm none of Murjibhai's trees reached the height of
3 meters; their average girth came to just 30 cm. As the quality of
polewood was quite poor, the trader offered either to buy each piece
of polewood at Rs. 5 or to purchase the entire biomass of each tree at
the rate of Rs. 6 for 20 kg. Because each tree gave only about 12
kilograms of wood, it would provide the farmer with only Rs. 3.60. He
therefore decided to accept the former offer so that he could keep the
tops and lops for domestic use and still get another Rs. 1.40 per
tree. He sold the polewood for a total of Rs. 20 000. After taking
out the cost (Rs. 6 670) from his gross earning, his cash benefit came
to Rs. 13 330 per acre or Rs.
3 332 per year.
Mujibhai was disappointed by his cost-benefit ratio of 1:2. He
said that in the markets of Bhavnagar and Rajkot, Eucalyptus timber
sold at Rs. 2.25 per foot; however, his own polewood did not sell at
even one rupee a foot. He said that he could not understand how the
wood market operated.
- 13 -
Selling firewood by the roadside
Case 2 Makorbhai had planted 10 000 saplings of Eucalyptus on
two acres of his four acre plot of irrigated land. About 7 000 trees
survived and he too was forced to sell them at the price of fuelwood
(Rs. 6 for 20 kg). This experience has left him shattered and he has
already pulled out each tree and planted this land with citrus fruit
trees. With the help of Lokbharati workers, Mr. Makorbhai produced
one tonne of wheat on each acre of his land. In 1986, he produced
700 kg of groundnuts on one acre and accrued an income of Rs. 3 500.
His costs in producing groundnuts were:
Irrigation Rs. 800
Labour of bullocks and two hands --
Total Rs. 1 500
He made a profit of Rs. 2 000 on the cultivation of groundnut.
However, after waiting for four years and foregoing the opportunity of
planting any other crop on his plot. Mr. Makorbhai earned a profit of
a little less than Rs. 2 000 from Eucalyptus on one acre in one year.
He considered this as a dead loss since he could not use this
land for a more remunerative crop. The family expected to earn at
least Rs. 4 000 per acre by cultivating citrus fruits which required
less water. The material inputs in this case come to Rs. 1 000 per
acre, and as no extra labour is required, the cost-benefit ratio comes
to 1:3. This was considered to be far better than that which was
achieved with farm forestry.
- 14 -
Case 3 Ranchhorbhai wanted to know if there were any people
interested in buying polewood. He planted three acres with
Eucalyptus, of which 4 000 trees had been sold while another 7 000
trees were still standing. He did not mind considering the
cultivation of subavul on the outskirts of his farm but he had decided
to reclaim the three acres under Eucalyptus by selling the trees and
replacing them with groundnut. He found that Eucalyptus destroyed the
growth of other plants in its vicinity. Secondly, during drought
conditions and with his inability to provide enough water, after
showing early growth in height the trees did not develop to maturity.
He blamed the foresters for advising him to plant this species of
Then, he approached the problem of marketing polewood by
comparing it with groundnut marketing. He belonged to a cooperative
society affiliated to Gujarat Oilseeds Growers' Federation (GROFED).
This coop was established so that each member was assured a minimum
selling price of Rs. 5 per kilogram of groundnut. Mrs. Ranchhorbhai
suggested that if the Forest Department was keen that villagers should
grow trees then it should also fix a minimum selling price for the
When it was pointed out that no one in the village had actually
suffered losses in cultivating Eucalyptus and that, in addition to
some profits, there were increased supplies of fuelwood, most women
argued that all other crops (foodgrains, fruits, pulses and nuts)
provided some amount of fuelwood and fodder, and in addition, allowed
farming families to consume a part of each. Eucalyptus trees, on the
other hand, were useless as food, and provided fuelwood only after
four years. For marginal and small farmers nearly 10 per cent of the
groundnut, 84 per cent of the bajra and 100 per cent of the jowar
annually grown on the farm are consumed domestically. The women of
these families insisted that there was no shortage of fuelwood in
their area due to the plentiful natural and planted Prosopis
juliflora. They could thus easily collect fuelwood; on the other
hand, they were not used to purchasing various food items if they did
not grow them. In making an explicit choice for food and fruit crops
they argued that "food is after all more important than fuelwood and
other cash crops are grown for their cash income". In their view,
forest trees have not given them sufficient cash income and their
non-cash benefits are not significant in light of cost-free
availability of fuelwood in this area.
- 15 -
1.3.4 Women's participation in farm forestry
The women of the farming families undertake all weeding and
transplanting tasks while the pits for planting the saplings are dug
by the male farmers along with hired male labour. The application of
chemical fertilizers and insecticide is also done by men only.
Harvesting is again an operation exclusively carried out by hired male
labour. All negotiations for selling the polewood are settled by the
men. On the other hand, the transportation of wood for domestic use
from the fields to the house is the task of the women in which they
are assisted by the children of the family.
As women are the actual users of fuelwood, one would expect them
to be concerned with the fact that farm forestry provides an increased
supply of fuelwood, and saves them having to walk miles and carrying
headloads of wood. Rather, like the men, they were much more
concerned with the poor sales of polewood and had reached the
conclusion that farm forestry was of no use to them. One woman
clearly worked out the whole set of calculations as to how in growing
either groundnut or cotton a farming family can expect an annual
income of Rs. 2 500 to 3 500 per acre while Eucalyptus cultivation
provides nearly the same amount after waiting for four years. She
"It is not worth it because one has to forego a regular income
and in any case, the income is not even a quarter of what the
forest official told us. He led us to believe that we would earn
at least Rs. 10 per tree. It is true that because of recurring
drought conditions the Eucalyptus trees did not grow well but the
same applied to all other crops. The trouble with Eucalyptus is
that one has to wait for four years before cutting it. Thus, the
women and children have to keep collecting firewood and fodder
for the first three years.
Planting Eucalyptus has not proved particularly beneficial to us
in Jaspara while some trees around the house, like this neem in
my house, can bring more benefits in short and long terms. We
can use its shade, its leaves, twigs, branches and even its
bitter fruits. As it takes 10 to 15 years for a neem tree to
fully grow, it can not be planted on the farm. I think on our
type of land, crops like bajra, jowar, groundnut, sapota, lime
and guava are the right kind of things to grow. Anyway, we tried
to follow the suggestions of those foresters and improve our
profits but we failed. Now we have to go back to our old pattern
of land use."
1.3.5 Main problems faced by small farmers in farm forestry
(1) Suitability of Eucalyptus as a crop
The farmers of Jaspara were against further plantation of
Eucalyptus which, according to them, competed for water and other
nutrients with crops in its vicinity and deprived them of healthy
- 16 -
(ii) Profit calculus
Makorbhai made it clear that as a major portion of his plot has
to be allotted to subsistence crops with only about a quarter of the
land in cash crops, he has to compare the income from various
alternative crops and opt for the one with largest benefits. He did
not think that eucalyptus compared favourable with other crops such as
groundnut, lime, and cotton.
(ili) Inability of small farmers to take risk
According to Jivarajbhal, a small farmer cannot take the risk of
growing a tree crop which produces an income in 4 to 5 years. Most
farmers with small plots (less than 2 ha) felt that they lacked
sufficient capital and labour to invest in farm forestry on a
competitive scale and that for them the income from it will always
(iv) Informal wood market unfavourable for small farmers
A majority of Jaspara farmers (who had adopted farm forestry in
1982-3) have now decided against block planting and some of them have
turned against farm forestry itself, mainly because they found that
the mechanisms of the informal wood market were not favourable to
small unorganized farmers. They agreed that even in the market for
groundnut large farmers earned more than small farmers but that
through the use of cooperative societies, even small farmers were
assured of a minimum selling price for their crops. They felt unless
there were similar cooperative societies for group selling of wood
with minimum prices or at least strong bargaining and advocacy power
the wood market would always be inaccessable to them.
(v) Problem of the middleman
The farmers had no clear idea of the market forces in the wood
economy. A city trader could easily talk them into selling their
produce at a nominal price. A local daily 'Phool Dhab', circulated
widely in rural areas, gives the ruling prices for groundnut in the
Rajkot market; farmers use this information for settling their price
with the traders. There was absolutely no market information about
polewood available to them.
(vi) Lack of the realistic assessment of cash benefits
Both in Anida and Jaspara, the farmers felt that the foresters
and Lokbharati workers had duped them by giving them too rosy a
picture of the benefits from farm forestry. Their disappointment
should be seen in light of their high expectations.
(vii) Cyclone-generated wood and its effect on the price of
Some farmers pointed out that the 1983 cyclone in the region had
uprooted many trees and the local landless agricultural families were
earning a living from the collection and sale of this wood. Thus, the
local market was still saturated, compelling some farmers to sell
their timber at a low price.
- 17 -
(viii) Dependence on the rains
The Anida farmers have decided to wait another year before
harvesting trees because if 1987 brings some rain, the trees may grow
a little better and be sold as polewood for more than Rs. 5 (the
current selling price in Jaspara). They further calculate that by
1987 the cyclone-wood will be exhausted, therefore making it easy to
sell the tops and lops as fuelwood.
Disappointed farmers of Jaspara Village, having pulled out forest trees
from the site seen here.
1.3.6 Problems in marketing of polewood also faced by other farmers
The analysis of the situation of farmers in Jaspara and Anida is
corroborated by the experiences of small farmers in Mehsana and
Surendranagar districts. In December, 1986, Sri Gora P. Karnik, a
representative of the tree growers in Mehasana district, met the
organizers of a non-governmental organization known as Viksat. He had
come to Ahmedabad to ask the NGO to find a market for their timber
because the farmers in Mehasana district were unable to sell their
polewood locally. At the same time, the Viksat organizers were also
approached by Sri Khetshibhai Khusaldas, the President of the District
Panchayat, Surendranagar, for the same purpose.
Viksat, an evaluation and monitoring institution, could not
provide them with any help. But it did contact the Forest Department
in Ahmedabad for assistance, with no success.
It was clear that the farmers were now trying to make a better
entry into the wood market and looking for buyers to pay them a high
- 18 -
price. Only very needy farmers were going in for distress-selling.
These were the people who were going to Ahmedabad and contacting more
resouceful persons and organizations.
1.3.7 Need for an organized market
Even if one were to argue that saturation of the market may lead
the large farmers away from tree crops and thereby make the
competition less intense for small farmers, the question posed by
Jaspara farmers remains unanswered: Why should I be made to pay Rs.
20 to 25 for a 3 meter pole if I can not sell mine even for Rs. 10?
Obviously, at present the middle man between the producer and consumer
is making a large profit. Both market regulation and the flow of
market information need the urgent attention of planners and
policy-makers, if the interest of the average farmer in farm forestry
is to be maintained. The potential of organizing cooperatives for
smaller farmers is also an important point for consideration.
1.3.8 Fuelwood from farm forestry for domestic use
Family members in all Jaspara farming families with forest trees
reported an increased supply of fuelwood for domestic use, though this
was relegated to a topic of minor significance. As fuelwood in rural
areas is still collected from nearby forest areas without any cost to
the farmer, its increased supply from farm forestry did not enter
calculations of cash benefits. As Murjibhal said:
"A farmer needs cash for consulting a doctor, buying medicines,
sending the children to school and holding life cycle rituals on
occasions of birth, marriage and death. He would like to have
enough cash income from growing trees to enable him to meet some
of these needs. In this scheme, the supply of fuelwood and
fodder has almost no place. The women and children of the family
collect and carry all that is available after harvesting food
crops and our remaining needs are fulfilled by collection from
the nearby wasteland area."
Perhaps the increased supply of fuelwood through farm forestry
would have its impact felt only in the long term and in an indirect
manner. In both Anida and Jaspara, the members of farming households
were not even aware of the existence of fuelsaving cooking stoves and
neither village had improved crematoria.
- 19 -
1.3.9 Labour management
On small farms in Anida and Jaspara, all crops, including forest
trees, are grown by the farm family; men, women and children work on
the farm. Sometimes during the planting and harvesting seasons extra
labour may be hired. In the case of Eucalyptus plantations, "owing to
inexperience and lack of training", the farmers felt the need to hire
extra labour to dig pits and later to cut trees.
On Jivarajbhai's farm, 9 persons were hired for 7 days to dig
pits and later, at harvest time, 5 men were engaged to cut trees. In
1982 each person was paid Rs. 10 per day while in 1986 Rs. 12 per day.
The hired labour was only paid daily wages and was strictly prohibited
from taking away any agro-waste and tops and lops of the trees because
these were used exclusively by the farmer's family for their own use
or for sale. The fact that the tops and lops were thus treated does
indicate, however, that they did have some potential monetary value.
2. Use of wasteland for farm forestry
2.1 Case of Scheduled Caste Cooperative Practicing Farm Forestry in
Vadgam Village, Cambay Taluka of Kheda District
The sea coast of Cambay Taluka, known as the Bhal region, has
traditionally been under the socio-political domination of the local
Rajput castes. The dominant castes own the best and the most land of
the region while most lower castes maintain patron-client
relationships with the Rajput castes. The Vankar of the Bhal region,
traditionally a community of fishing-net weavers, are a scheduled
caste working as farm hands on the fields of the Rajput farmers.
Under the Tenancy Act of 1956, some Vankar of Vadgam village acquired
small plots of poor-quality land, thereby becoming marginal farmers.
With the help of the Behavioural Science Centre (BSC), a
non-governmental organization, the Vankar of Vadgam have carried out
farm forestry since 1979 on a plot of 182 acres of wasteland.
Profile of Kheda District
Major foodgrains: paddy, groundnut, pigeon pea
dry climate: summer (March to June) temperatures more than 40C;
winter (November to February) temperatures to 7 C
rainfall between June and October is variable (e.g. in Cambay
Taluka, approximately 300 mm)
> 80% of the population lives in villages
fairly developed rural area with industrial development
surrounding the farming and dairy production: tobacco
processing/tobacco production; pulse mills, rice mills,
groundnut oil mills; milk marketing/cheese, butter, milk powder
- 20 -
Preparing the meal
Vadgam Village in Kheda District
18,886 acres of land, but only 6,579 acres are cultivated;
11,000 acres are infertile wasteland, much of it saline land
Main crops: wheat, bajri, irrigated paddy (since 1976)
24 kilometres from Cambay town, the only seaport in the
children under 5 years suffer most from malaria, typhoid,
children weaned between 1 1/2 and 2 years; fed rice and pulses
cooked with milk
all drinking water from four wells, one for each caste; wells
always have water, available at 25 feet
no village houses with lavatory
no primary health centre
- 21 -
Vankar Community of Vadgam Village
-10% of village population of Vadgam are Vankar, with 67
-53 families own 156 acres of unirrigated land (from the Tenancy
Act of 1956); the remaining 14 families are landless, depending
on employment as agricultural labourers
village has about 300 families of landless labourers; in times
of drought, they are forced to work on richer farms
poor quality soil, consequent low level of yield in region;
even in normal times, crop production is low: 200 kg
wheat/acre (compared to 1000 kg/acre in Jaspara village)
marginal farmer: 1-7 acres; small farmer: 8-15 acres; middle
farmer: 16-30 acres; large farmer: >31 acres
in non-drought times, barely enough food to subsist through the
year; for non-food requirements, need access to cash
get money through the money-lender, with exorbitant interest,
forcing them to work on his fields at low wages no other
-the Vankar cooperative has adopted farm forestry as an
alternative, providing secure employment and regular income
female members of Vankar families find employment on the farm;
able to avoid "forced labour" for money-lenders
Vankar have tried to persuade others to follow their example
in several villages of Bhal region, Vankar and other scheduled
castes have started moves some have similar cooperatives with
farm forestry a part of it
2.1.1 Involvement of the Behavioural Science Centre with the Vankar
The Behavioural Science Centre, located at St. Xavier's College,
Ahmedabad, has been involved with the scheduled castes of the Bhal
region for the last twenty years, "encouraging among them an awareness
of the need to help themselves in order to improve their
socio-economic conditions" (according to a BSC worker in 1986). In
1976, the BSC conducted a socio-economic survey of the Vankar
community, with 128 Vankar farmers from eight villages of the region.
The survey revealed that the cash needs of Vankar families exceeded
their incomes, resulting in a permanent bond of "debtor-creditor"
relationship between the Vankar and the rich Rajput farmers.
- 22 -
The saline wasteland of Vadgam Village, Cambay Taluka, Kheda District
2.1.2 Formation of a cooperative for acquiring land
To augment the availability of cash among the Vankar, the BSC
suggested that the Vankar community in each village form a cooperative
and apply to the state government as a collective body for a
land-grant which would enable them to increase their income by
cultivating additional land. The Vankar of Vadgam formed the "Vadgam
Anusuchita Jati Samudaylk Kheti Mandali Limited" cooperative in 1977;
in 1978 the government of Gujarat gave it a land-grant of 182 acres on
yearly leases. Initially the BSC had planned to introduce improved
techniques of agriculture on a 20 acre section of the land-grant and
encourage the Vankar to take up agricultural cultivation on the
remaining land. However, all efforts to make the saline land produce
agricultural crops failed; in the last quarter of 1979 the BSC
suggested the Vankar cooperative members grow forest trees on this
land and sell the timber for income-generation. Thus, the Cooperative
land came to be used for farm forestry.
Initially, the Vankar community had grave doubts about the
feasibility of such a scheme and expressed its apprehensions before
the BSC, which subsequently arranged a visit by Kalidas Patel (a
pioneer in raising Propsopis juliflora in Gujarat) to Vadgam for
inspection of the land. He maintained that Prosopis juliflora could
be grown in any kind of soil and was specially suited for cultivation
in wasteland. Fully agreeing with the BSC's plans of raising a
Prosopis juliflora plantation, Patel assured the Vankar community of
complete success in their venture. He then invited the executive of
the cooperative to visit his farm in Vatva and see for themselves the
feasibility of such a project. Thus convinced, the members of the
cooperative agreed to first raise a nursery for growing seedlings.
- 23 -
The Vankar Co-operative Land (prepared for transplantation of seedling)
covered by salt from a sea-tide, in Vadgam Village.
In fact, the villagers were already familiar with this tree,
locally known as Gando baval ("mad babool"). Treating it as a menace,
they never allowed it to grow fully and cut it for fuelwood and
fencing. Now they were worried that if they cultivated it as a crop,
the other villagers may not allow the plants to grow properly. This
led them to think of the need for a watchman and they raised questions
related to resources and funds for financing the operations of farm
2.1.3 Resources and funds
The BSC agreed to provide the capital, interest free, to finance
the operations of raising trees on the farm on condition that if the
project failed, the BSC would not ask the cooperative to repay the
debt, while if it succeeded the cooperative would have to pay all its
debts to the BSC. The cooperative members agreed to this condition
and the BSC arranged the loan from charity organizations abroad.
2.1.4 How farm forestry developed on cooperative land
Nursery After deciding to grow Prosopis juliflora, the
cooperative needed seedlings to plant. The BSC helped the members
grow a nursery of 80 000 seedlings on a plot near the village pond.
In 1979, the ground was prepared and 90 000 polythene bags were filled
with a mixture of manure and local soil and sown with seeds of
- 24 -
Prosopis juliflora. The costs of preparing the nursery for 80 000
seedlings were as follows:
Plastic bags Rs. 463
Pump charges for irrigation 333
Irrigation by truck-tanker 1 275
Irrigation by tractor-tanker 400
Labour for digging, bag filling and
seed preparation 3 522
Labour for fencing and weeding 122
Labour for irrigation 1 308
Total 7 518
Transplantation The nursery provided sufficient saplings to
cover more than 100 acres. By the first quarter of 1980 about 72
acres were planted with 21 800 seedlings. The spacing followed in the
1980 transplantation was 3' x 3' while the present pattern has been
changed to a spacing of 1' x 3'. The cost of the first phase of
transplantation came to Rs. 35 700. The expenditures were as follows:
Digging of pits Rs. 4 694
Removal and transfer of seedlings 3 482
Irrigation and mulching 13 644
Actual planting operation 3 369
Administrative overheads 87
Salaries of watchman and supervisor 10 000
Total 35 695
Survival rate The survival rate of the saplings came to an
average of 35 per cent. Later when in the monsoon period of 1980
another 15 acres of land were planted with 4000 saplings at a cost of
Rs. 1 074; the survival rate in this instance was 37.5 per cent.
Water conservation Again, a second nursery was set up to make
at least 5 000 saplings available at each session of transplantation
from December 1980 to February 1981 and then in the 1.981 monsoon
period. Simultaneously, the technical wing of the BSC had undertaken
extensive research on the soil-type to isolate the causes for the
survival rate. As a result it was discovered that moisture was the
limiting factor affecting the growth of Prosopis juliflora. To retain
moisture, therefore, the process of bunding had to be carried out.
Next, drainage facilities had to be provided for water-logged areas.
It was decided that all possible systems of water harvesting and
moisture conservation had to be adopted to irrigate the fields.
Bunding and a few other devices did raise the survival rate of plants
from 35 to 55 per cent by June 1980. Adequate rains during the
monsoon season of 1981 brought the survival rate to 70 per cent.
Additional funds For the bunding operations, Catholic Relief
Services made a contribution in the form of food for work for 1,125
working days. The Kaira Social Service Society gave funds for
building a service road within the plantation, requiring a total of
8,055 working days. Thus, additional sources were found to generate
funds so as to provide employment to the members of the cooperative.
- 25 -
Harvesting plans By the end of 1981, 130 acres had been
planted; with an average survival rate of 55 per cent, about 27,500
trees matured, at a cost of Rs. 82,000. Due to the uneven growth of
trees on different sections of the farm, only one-third had fully
matured in 1985 for the farm's first harvest.
Experimental marketing of timber In July 1983, the cooperative,
apprehensive about the income from the trees, decided to experiment by
cutting and selling timber from 90 trees already growing on the farm
before the cooperative was accorded the land-grant. This gave the
cooperative an insight into the market for fuelwood. The wood
obtained from 90 trees came to 472 maund (1 maund = 20 kilograms) or
9,440 kg. In the market of Nadiad (a small town in Kheda district),
it was sold at the rate of Rs. 4 for 20 kg. The trader deducted 25
maunds (500 kg) of wood as his commission and a further deduction of
Rs. 99 was made on the total income. Thus, the cooperative received
only Rs. 1 688.
Decision to make charcoal As the expenditure on cutting,
transport, loading and unloading came to Rs. 826, the net profit to
the cooperative came to Rs. 862. The experimental marketing gave both
the cooperative and the BSC a clear idea of the unfair practices in
the market for fuelwood. It led them to decide against selling the
timber. Instead they agreed to make charcoal to sell in the urban
markets. Thus, from 1979 to 1985, the cooperative operated mainly
with the funds provided by the BSC, with contributions from Catholic
Relief Services in the form of food for work and the Kaira Social
Service Society as additional source of funds.
Bags of charcoal on the Co-operative Farm in Vadgam Village, waiting
to be transported to Ahmedabad Charcoal Depot.
- 26 -
2.1.5 Organization of employment on the farm
The cooperative is able to provide sustained employment to its
members. At least one person from each member-family is given work.
When there is not enough work available for all the families, it is
given on a rotational basis. At least one member of the family,
usually a female, is always available to accept the offer of work.
During the peak agricultural season, some families may decline to work
on the farm and the turn goes to the next in rotation. The executive
of the cooperative tries to arrange the tasks of the plantation so
that there is not much to do during the peak agricultural season.
Thus, as far as possible, most employment is made available during the
slack period when most Vankar families have time to give to the
Employment through CRS and DRDA In 1978, Catholic Relief
Services financed a food for work scheme for bunding a 38-acre section
of the land grant. This scheme gave workers grain and oil the two
most important items of sustenance. At present, the District Rural
Development Agency (DRDA, the district level authority representing
the National Rural Employment Programme) has financed one year's work
on the plantation from 1 April 1986 to 30 March 1987. It pays the
workers in cash and kind, on the basis of 50 per cent cash and
50 per cent kind
Payment of daily wages In 1978-9, the minimum daily wage for an
agricultural worker was Rs. 7, while in 1986, it was Rs 12. The
payment of wages in kind is mostly in the form of wheat. The
supervisor informs the member-families about the availability of work
and notes down the names of the people willing to go to work. The
DRDA has devised an eight-day task to each person. The supervisor is
paid in the third week of each month, while he pays the workers on the
eighth day of her/his employment. The supervisor, the technical
expert and the six members of the executive committee of the
cooperative meet once a week to decide what tasks have to be carried
out and then the supervisor has them implemented. He/she is paid Rs.
500 per month for his duties from the cooperative funds. The
executive committee and the technical expert (who is a local person,
trained by the BSC) inspect the work carried out under the supervisor.
Supervisor's duties The supervisor keeps records tabulating
the amount of work done and the amount of money paid for it. He
prepares the budget and keeps a detailed account of the expenditure
under five categories, namely:
(i) salaries of the watchman, supervisor and technical expert;
(ii) administrative costs;
(iv) earth-work (financed by DRDA); and
(v) land preparing for further extension of the plantation at the
rate of 25 acres of land per year.
The cooperative receives funds from the DRDA an the BSC and its
executive committee, under the close watch of the BSC, decides how to
Access to more cash and food Since 1979, the Vankar of Vadgam
have worked on the plantation and earned a regular income both in cash
and kind. The food for work, the workers said, has helped them to
tide over the lean months of food scarcity.
- 27 -
Additional cash has meant several things to different families.
Premaben, a 45 year old woman, belongs to a sharecropper family which
cultivates a 5 acre plot of land and receives the produce of 2 1/2
acres. Premaben and her daughter-in-law work on the cooperative farm
whenever work is available. She said that her income from the
plantation enables her to occasionally buy vegetables for the evening
meals. Last year she purchased a 1 1/2 year old buffalo for Rs. 300
from her earnings. This way she can further augment her family's
income and provide a little milk for the children.
2.1.6 Marketing: results of the 1985 harvest and prospects for the
The winter months are considered to be the ideal season for
cutting trees and making charcoal. In the 1985 harvest season, the
cooperative hired Kachachi labour (migrants from Cutch district) to
make charcoal from the timber obtained from a 6 acre plot. The leader
of the group of ten to twelve labourers was given a contract for
production of charcoal at the rate of Rs. 11 for 20 kg.
Charcoal-making is considered a specialised task and Kachchhl men
are known to be experts in it. Vankar men were not keen to undertake
this work because they reckoned the above rates of payment to be too
low, since at that time they were able to get work on the cooperative
farm for higher wages. The executive committee of the cooperative
argued that by employing migrant labour it was able to save money on
both cutting and charcoal making, thus achieving a better cost-benefit
ratio for farm forestry operations.
For the production of 24,000 kg., the Kachcchi contractor was
paid Rs. 13 200. This amount included all labour involved in cutting
the trees and charcoal-making on the site.
The cooperative paid Rs. 700 per trip for the transportation of
charcoal bags to Ahmedabad depot. Three trips were necessary as each
truck had a capacity of 8,000 kg. (200 bags) charcoal. Thus the cost
of harvesting was as follows:
Labour Rs. 13 200
Transportation 2 100
Total 15 300
At Ahmedabad, 20 kg. of charcoal sold for Rs. 32. The net profit
came to Rs. 38,400 15,300 = Rs. 23,100 (sale price costs =
profit). As the debt of the cooperative in November 1986 came to Rs.
111,000, the 1985 income was used to repay part of the debt; Rs.
20,000 of the income was paid to the BSC. Of course these figures do
not include production costs, that is, the cost of planting and of
waiting for the trees to grow.
The 1986 harvesting process started in November. By the end of
December, the workers had already covered 4 acres, producing 16 000 kg
of charcoal. It is planned to cover at least 25 to 30 acres during
the current harvesting season, producing about 120 000 kg of charcoal.
The net profits from this harvest are estimated at Rs 100 000. The
BSC feels confident that at this rate the cooperative should be able
to repay its debts fairly soon, i.e. within the next five years.
- 28 -
The cooperative expects to produce an equal amount of charcoal
each year for another five years before returning to the trees
harvested in 1985. This gives a seven year harvest cycle. At the
same time, the work of replanting the remaining portion of the
land-grant will continue.
2.1.7 Forest Department and its role
In the Vadgam village case, there seems to be rather little input
from the Forest Department. Only the seeds were acquired from the
Department for the two nurseries. Later, the Forest Department's
intervention was seen in a negative manner. At harvest time, the
cooperative realized that permission had to be obtained from the
Forest Department to sell charcoal produced on the plantation.
Under the Indian Forest Act, transit passes are required for the
movement of forest produce from one place to another. As the Vankar
cooperative wanted to move its charcoal bags from Vadgam to Ahmedabad
depot, it needed such a pass. The government of Gujarat only exempted
produce derived from Eucalyptus, subavul and saroo from the
requirement of a transit pass.
The procedure to obtain this pass is a slow, time-consuming
business. The necessary papers must be processed through local and
then district level officials. In the second week of December 1986,
the cooperative had 16 000 kg of charcoal packed and ready to be
transported to Ahmedabad but was unsuccessful in getting the
necessary paperwork through the first step until Christmas.
The application for a transit pass had to be made each year
because the land was given only on yearly leases. The executive of
the cooperative felt that if the land-grant was made into a 99-year
leasehold, it would be easier to get the transit pass from the
district office. The BSC wanted the Forest Department to exempt the
produce of Prosopis juliflora in the same way as it had done for
Eucalyptus, subavul and saroo.
- 29 -
2.1.8 Other problems faced by the cooperative in the adoption of
In a meeting with nearly half of the cooperative members on
19 December 1986, it emerged that the foremost problem before them was
that of marketing charcoal at a better price. It was stated that if
the market price of 20 kg of charcoal is Rs. 50 to 52 in retail and
Rs. 45 in wholesale, the producer should get at least Rs. 40 instead
of the present rate of Rs. 30 to 32 for 20 kg. For the past six
months the BSC workers have been exploring the market in various urban
centres. Unfortunately, they have not yet succeeded in their efforts
to find a better price. An alternative of establishing their own
charcoal depot in Ahmedabad was not seen by the cooperative executive
as a feasible project.
Another problem faced by the cooperative is the problem of
internal disorder in the Vankar community. One old man said, "If we
live in this village which is full of disorder, disunity and
disruptive forces, it is not possible to make one section of the
village united and orderly." Unity and consensus were recognized by
most people as important to achieving further success in their goal of
improving their socio-economic condition. Many were also aware of
factionalism within their group and its negative impact on the
activities of the cooperative. A current dispute over the appointment
of a watchman for the plantation had created tension between two
groups in the community. Obviously, farm forestry management is set
back during such periods, which have plagued the Vadgam cooperative.
In fact, the BSC had to intervene and take the management of all its
accounts in its own hands until members of the cooperative found ways
to act as a unified body.
Thus, it is clear that while on paper one can see the
possibilities of a profitable enterprise in farm forestry in Vadgam,
in reality, there are various unquantifiable factors which play a part
in its success or failure. It is quite possible that with the help of
the BSC the Vadgam Vankar will learn to give more importance to
collective rather than individual gains.
2.1.9 Farm forestry as only one of the many development projects
The Vankar of Vadgam are participating in various development
schemes for rural areas. Many of them are members of the Milk
Cooperative which helps them buy cattle as well as purchase dairy
products. As members of the larger Vankar community of the Bhal
region they also take part in affairs of the Nat. It is therefore
difficult to view the Vankar primarily as farm foresters. The project
has to be placed in the context of village affairs, even if it
involves only a section of the village community.
The overall development of this scheduled caste community cannot
be directly and solely linked to farm forestry. The impact of farm
forestry can be judged mainly in terms of interrelationships between
various sections of society in the village. It is the Vankar's
participation in more than one development programme that has resulted
in their increased level of cash income. With this greater income
they have also, as members of different cooperatives, gradually come
to learn to develop new skills in self-management.
4. Host social and economic activities of the Vankar community are
traditionally governed by its legislative body called Nat
consisting of representatives from 28 villages of the region.
The Vankar Nat recognizes its social position as inferior to and
under the domination of the local Rajput farmers.
- 30 -
2.1.10 The supply of fuelwood and fodder through farm forestry
If the primary aim of farm forestry is to increase the supply of
fuelwood and fodder in rural areas, then the Vankar cooperative
plantation is a poor example of this. The cooperative has strictly
forbidden the use of any part of the trees by anyone in the community.
Anyone a Vankar or an outsider found doing so is penalised by a
fine. Only by paying the market price can a person purchase wood from
the plantation. As villagers never purchase fuelwood, there is no
question of anyone wanting to pay for the wood from this plantation.
The chances are that the Vankar themselves or other villagers may try
to steal some wood. For this very reason, the cooperative has
appointed a watchman who is personally responsible for any theft,
paying the fine if any case of missing wood is detected by the
The members of the cooperative do not object to this injunction
because in this region Prosopis juliflora grows naturally and the
villagers do get enough wood from the nearby wasteland. Secondly, the
Forest Department has planted the same species by roadsides, so many
villagers cut wood from these strip plantations. One woman commented,
"We help the Department to weed the plants". As a result, few
villagers feel the need to steal wood from the cooperative's plot.
- 31 -
The use of pods for animal feed, initially suggested by the BSC
when the project was started, has not yet been taken up. A tour of
the plantation showed heaps of small twigs and branches from the
harvested trees. These could easily be used domestically by
cooperative members. But the executive committee seemed very adamant
about its rule of "no use by the members", in case some of them
actually cut trees on the pretext of collecting only the twigs.
2.1.11 Implications of farm forestry to the village social structure
Over the years, this alternative source of employment and income
for a section of the marginal farmers and landless of Vadgam has
resulted in a very positive change for them through a partial
disintegration of negative traditional patterns of social relations of
Ranchhorbhal, the traditional leader of the Vadgam Vankar said,
"The Vankar were permanently bound to the village head man because he
always gave the needy Vankar loans for their marriages, funerals and
births. In return the Vankar agreed to work on his fields even when
underpaid." Loans are given at rates of interest ranging from 25 to
30 per cent. The prices of commodities in Vadgam are fifty per cent
higher than in the town of Cambay. When interest rates are added the
prices become 100 per cent higher.
Since it is difficult to find employment, the villagers rely on
their land, however small and unproductive it may be. They find work
as agricultural labourers only during the peak season and remain
without work for several months of the year. Thus, they require both
secure employment and regular income to keep out of the clutches of
money-lenders. As the Vankar have not stopped seeking work on the
farms of the Rajput landowners, there has come about a continuous
state of cold war between the Vankar and the rich farmers. The
villagers gave numerous examples of the new awareness of self-dignity
among the Vankar of Vadgam and it was clearly linked to their ability
to find employment on the co-operative farm.
2.1.12 How Vankar women are affected by farm forestry
The availability of employment and regular income on the farm has
meant a new sense of freedom for the Vankar women; freedom from the
oppression and sexual exploitation of previous masters. To pay off
debts incurred by the family, the female members of Vankar households
previously had to go to work as maids in the houses of rich Rajput
farmers. They were paid very low wages.
Now working alongside male members of their families on the
cooperative farm, they no longer have to face such conditions and are
paid the daily wages prescribed by the state government, i.e. Rs 12
per day. Furthermore, they know that by working on this farm, they
are not working for any master because the farm is owned by their
community. Premaben said: "I work for myself. I am a full member of
the cooperative and the farm is the property of the Vankar community
So there is no employer-employee relationship in this case".
Giving the example of a recent murder case, in which a Rajput man
was killed by the husband of a Vankar woman, Premaben said:
"Previously no matter how much Vankar women hated the sexual
exploitation of their Rajput masters, they could not raise alarm if
approached by them. But now this woman raised the alarm after finding
- 32 -
the Rajput in her house. Other Vankar rushed to the spot and the
culprit was beaten to death. In the past, in such a case the Rajput
would have been allowed to escape".
2.1.13 Motivation behind the Vankar participation in farm forestry
For the organizers (the BSC) and the cooperative members, the
plantation is a source of income for 67 households of marginal farmers
and landless agricultural workers during the slack period. This
single factor has provided enough motivation for them to continue with
the scheme. As long as the enterprise continues to provide employment
the members will try to forget their differences and stick to it.
The BSC has developed similar cooperatives for scheduled castes
in other villages of the region. It plans to make a master
cooperative of all these sub-cooperatives, so that the Vankar of
Vadgam would only be a part of a larger unit. Some of the other
cooperatives also have farm forestry as one of their activities. For
example, in Pandad village, Prosopis juliflora, Acacia nilotica
(kubabool), and Acacia tortilis (desi babool) have been planted; the
villagers expect to get an income of Rs. 14 500 from these trees.
Similarly, in Golana village, the Vankar cooperative has 2 300
Eucalyptus trees, 1 620 kubabool, 330 casurina and 46 bamboo on its
land-grant. Because of the better quality of their land these
villages also cultivate food crops along with forest trees.
2.1.14 Total exclusion of other villagers from the project
Farm forestry through the cooperative has provided one section of
the village with secure employment and a regular income and no other
section, even that of other marginal farmers and landless labourers,
has any role in this project. The dominate caste farmers have tried
to exploit this fact by following a policy of "divide and rule",
setting one scheduled caste against the other. In a few cases the
Vankar have seen through this game and sought reconciliation with
their scheduled caste neighbours, the Vagharl. On other occasions a
few Vankar have been over-powered by rich farmers, thus allowing
factionalism within the community. This has thwarted community
progress, as well as that of the cooperative and its plantation
The executive of the cooperative pointed out the positive impacts
of the cultivation of Prosopis juliflora as follows:
(i) At least 67 families of the village are able to own assets
(the land and the trees) and in addition, derive employment
and income from them.
(ii) Waste land has been reclaimed and put to useful purpose.
(iii) It has provided tree cover in an area where trees were
(iv) It has also provided a buffer zone between the fast
encroaching saline wasteland by the sea and good agricultural
fields further inland.
- 33 -
2.1.15 What forest tree growers would like to have done
(i) The cooperative would like to be exempted from having to
obtain a transit pass to transport its charcoal from Vadgam.
(ii) If an exemption is not possible, the procedure of obtaining a
pass should be made simpler.
(iii) The yearly lease should be converted to a 99 year lease to
assuage members' apprehension that the government may take
land back once they have made the land produce marketable
(iv) Other scheduled castes should also be granted land to grow
trees, with the government financing tree cultivation
operations so that poor people do not have to repay the
initial cost of planting.
2.2 Farm forestry by Tribals as a Part of Agroforestry on Wasteland
and Degraded Forest Land
Tribals in the Valsad district of South Gujarat, with the
encouragement of a non-profit research foundation, have adopted farm
forestry. The land available for farm forestry is primarily
wasteland and degraded forests.
Some groups of tribals are in a stage of transition from their
traditional lifestyle to settled agriculture, while many among them
have had to abandon agriculture because of the unproductive nature of
their landholdings. Unable to subsist on the produce from their land,
most of them depend on forest products for their nutritional needs.
They gather wild roots and edible plants during starvation periods.
An average of two quintals of tubers are consumed by a family in four
months. Tribals like the Kotvalia depend on bamboo for their
livelihood, and do not, therefore, settle far away from forests. In
general, the tribals lead a life of insecurity, unemployment, seasonal
migration poverty, and problems with alcoholism, with a great
dependence on forest products in day-to-day existence.
2.2.1 The involvement of the Bharatiya Agro-Industries Foundation
(BAIF) with the tribals of Bansda Taluka
The Bharatiya Agro-Industries Foundation (BAIF), a non-profit
research foundation, was established in 1967 to engage in rural
development and poverty alleviation. Its strategy is to improve the
utility of natural resources already existing in rural areas and to
apply appropriate technology in order to secure gainful
self-employment for the rural poor. It has worked in the area of
water conservation through rain water harvesting and lift irrigation.
An extremely useful timber, Acacia nilotica (known as Kubabul), was
planted under its auspices on marginal wastelands in different
- 34 -
Profile of Valsad District
predominantly tribal region, with 79% of the population in
high number of females per thousand males (982 in 1981 versus
934 for all of India)
25% of the working population is made up of landless
56.8% of the land is used for agricultural production; only 18%
of the agricultural land is irrigated
24, of the land is under the Forest Department, with a large
part of the land now degraded
approx. 44% of agricultural production in cereals: rice, ragi,
jowar, wheat, kodra; non-food crops are sugarcane, groundnut,
> 1,000 cooperative societies, indicating trend for change
industries: paper, paper products, printing, publishing and
allied industries; large proportion of industrial workers in
working population, indicating demand for local industrial
water table only 5 m below the ground; soil capable of
multi-cropping through conservation of soil and water
few medical services: 35 villages with dispensaries, 5 with
hospitals, 18 with primary health centres
children under 5 years suffer most from scabies, polio,
weaned between 3 and 4 years; at 2, given plain boiled rice,
sometimes mixed with pulses
some farmers have hand pumps; many often use the canal and
drain water for drinking
no lavatories or bathrooms in houses; people often bathe in the
river or the canal
receive medical services by UNICEF-sponsored paramedical staff
- 35 -
In 1982, BAIF became involved with the tribal rehabilitation
scheme in Bansda Taluka The project includes farm forestry as one
component of the whole scheme. A model in which each tribal family is
initially helped to create conditions for a viable agricultural base
has been developed. After three years the support system is withdrawn
and the beneficiaries are expected to survive on their own, supported
by the newly founded base. However, the business house which
commissioned BAIF to carry out this scheme in Bansda has come under
critical scrutiny (see Savur 1987) for its intentions.
5. In fact, BAIF took over the rural development programme operating
in this area since 1968 through another agency known as Sadguru
Seva Sangh Trust (SSST). For more than a decade SSST operated in
Bansda Taluka and now it has completely withdrawn. Savur (1987:
M41-M44) has shown that under SSST, rural development of the area
Eansda Taluka in Valsad District
almost totally tribal population: major tribes are Kokna Kunbi
(61%), Warli (29%), Naika, Kolcha, and Kotvalia (1%)
nearly 50% of the population has less than 1 hectare of land
per household; 20% of the population is landless
rain-fed agriculture; main crop is paddy
Kotvalia tribals also make baskets; other tribals work as
little employment outside of the monsoon season: exploited by
traders and money lenders, migration to cities
of 94 villages in Bansda Taluka, 21% have no bus facilities;
23% has buses during fair weather only
ordinary surface wells
electricity in 68% of the villages, but farm families too poor
staple food: rice, nagli (Eleusin corecena), jowar
some houses have smokeless cooking stoves built by the Tribal
Development Organization; none were used for cooking; women use
- 36 -
2.2.2 How the scheme is conceptualised
Tribal families are asked to join the scheme on condition that
both women and men provide labour for shaping land, bunding,
terracing, fencing and digging pits for the plantation of forest trees
on their plot of land. The land-owning families work on their plots
while those without land are each given a plot of one acre of
wasteland by the state government on a usufruct basis. Another plot
of 1.5 acres of degraded forest land is allotted to each family by the
Forest Department, again on a usufruct basis. Both the Revenue
Department and Forest Department of the state government have agreed
to allow the usufruct as long as the tribals work on the land.
W. 'z W4
i m o .
A check-dam built by the tribals in Mindhbhari Village, Bansda Taluka,
BAIF has surveyed the entire region and prepared a land treatment
plan on a watershed basis. On each plot of land, 1.5 acres are
cultivated with forest trees and 1 acre of land is used to grow fruit
trees. Vegetables are grown as intercrops. Conditions are created so
that each plot regularly receives irrigation for nine months of the
Since 1982, each participating family has been provided with
three years of wage support (for 200 working days per year) and
material inputs for planting. BAIF arranged wage support through the
National Rural Employment Programme (NREP) via the District Rural
Development Agency (DRDA), Valsad District.
For material inputs, the State Rural Development Corporation
(SRDC) provided a 75 per cent subsidy for the construction of a small
tank on each family's plot. This tank was supplied with a continuous
flow of water through pipe lines from a nearby water source.
6. High density polyethylene (HDPE) pipes, produced by National
Organic Chemical Industries Limited and Polyolefins Industries
Limited, were used by SSST to operate the lift Irrigation scheme
in Bansda. Introducing the expensively produced goods among
extremely poor tribal farmers must have a purpose. Is it to
promote the agri-business of capitalists?
promote the agri-busineas of capitalists?
- 37 -
In effect, BAIF developed the project with the active supporLt
the Government of Gujarat through (i) the Forest Department, (ii) the
Revenue Department, (iii) the State Rural Development Corporation and
(iv) the District Rural Development Agency. UNICEF also helped the
BAIF and provided funds to operate a health care and training
programme among the tribals of Bansda.
Recently, the Gujarat Energy Development Agency (GEDA) has joined
the project by introducing a scheme using low-cost gasifiers for
irrigation purposes. These gasifiers are partly operated by burning
the wood produced on plots of tribal families. The entire project is
thus making use of all available funds from government and
non-government sources to devise a programme of self-employment for
tribals, with special emphasis on the plantation of forest and fruit
trees. How do the tribals respond to the huge investment in their
The Gasifier Plant installed in Mankunia Village, Bansda Taluka by
GEDA and operated by the tribal farmers working under the BAIF scheme
of rehabilitation of Bansda tribal.
2.2.3 Role of the Forest Department and reactions of tribals
In addition to giving tribals usufructuary rights on its degraded
land, the Forest Department has also introduced a scheme to establish
nurseries for forestry saplings. Tribal women are entrusted with this
task, which gives them a source of personal income.
Initially, seedlings for forest trees were provided by the Forest
Department nurseries. Later, it gave technical information about the
maintenance of the trees through its extension work. Thus, in this
case, there has been close collaboration between the foresters, the
organizers and the participants in farm forestry.
- 38 -
Despite positive support from the Forest Department, the tribals
often express doubts over its intentions in allowing them to use the
forest land. They still think that after the planted trees fully
mature, the Department will take them over and leave the tribals with
nothing. For this reason, some of them have already cut some of the
trees prematurely on the pretext that they need the polewood to build
extensions to their huts. This deep-set mistrust of foresters on the
part of tribals is basically a part of the heritage social relations
between foresters and local people. BAIF feels that only time will
alleviate matters and that the continued support of the Forest
Department will gradually obliterate past.memories.
2.2.4 How the tribal rehabilitation scheme operates
Number of participating families Bansda Taluka has 94 villages.
During )982 to 1986 a total of 1400 tribal families from fifteen
villages joined the scheme by accepting work on land in8Bansda Taluka
and vowing to give up the consumption of alcohol forever Initially,
in 1982, only 40 families participated while others showed distrust of
all such welfare programmes. However, observing the progress of the
participating families, the number of newcomers steadily increased.
In the third year there were 510 and in the fourth year (1985) another
500 families joined. By 1986 the total number was 1400.
The extent of participation ranges from 8 to 46 per cent of the
total number of households in each village. In several villages about
10 to 15 per cent of the participating families have given up their
membership while new ones have joined. The scheme has yet to be
accepted by the majority of tribal families of Bansda Taluka. Some
non-participating families expressed their doubts about the long-term
goals of BAIF in tribal development projects. Some others criticised
its policy of favouritism among the rural families. They also pointed
out that some tribal families, without entering the BAIF scheme, have
modernized their agricultural operations after receiving subsidy from
the Tribal Development Organization. Thus, those who do not want to
seek the BAIF patronage can sometimes find other sources of technical
and financial help. However, the number of such families is very
Nature of work on each plot Each family joining the scheme
undertook the following tasks on its plot:
(1) Landshaping/soil conservation by counter bunding, terracing,
digging run-off trenches and maintaining all structures.
(ii) Livehedge fencing along the plot boundary.
7. The tribal families from the following fifteen villages are
participating in the scheme (figures within brackets refer to the
percentage of participating families in each village):
Boriachh (46), Chikatia (28), Chorvani (27), Chakmal (8),
Gangpur (27), Ghodmal (17), Kavdej (13), Lachhakdl (38), Mankunia
(12), Manpur (10), Mindhabari (19), Nirpan (24), Umarkui (17),
Vanarasi (49), Vangan (44).
8. BAIF believes In the Gandhlan principles of conduct and has
therefore made the participants give up alcohol as a mark of fair
conduct. The tribals in the region are known for their addiction
to alcohol which prevents them from undertaking self-development
- 39 -
(iii) Digging pits and filling them with a suitable mixture of soil
and manure for fruit and forest trees.
(iv) Planting fruit and forest trees (exclusively carried out by
female members of the family).
(v) Gap filling in plantations.
(vi) Manuring, applying fertilizers and pesticides, preparing water
(vil) Follow-up care such as pruning, weeding and intercropping.
(viil)Erecting check dams (30 such dams have so far been erected in
the area), irrigating fruit trees and intercrops, and protective
irrigation of forest trees during the first year.
(ix) Preparing vegetable seed beds for intercropping (another
operation exclusively carried out by female labour).
(x) Raising nurseries for fruit and forestry saplings (a female
task); cultivating paddy and intercrops such as melons and sweet
In the seven villages visited, the participating families had
carried out most of the above tasks and had already begun to derive
benefits from the improved condition of soil and the consequent
increase in yields of food and cash crops.
Employment and income Able-bodied members of each family had an
opportunity for employment and through NREP/DRDA funds for each plot,
200 workingdays were given wage support. Wages were paid on the basis
of 40 per cent in kind and 60 per cent in cash. The workers' cash
earnings were not given to them directly ("in case they were tempted
to spend them on alcohol"). Each family was made to open a savings
bank account in Bansda (or the nearest town) and maintain it through
earnings which went directly to their accounts. Thus, many families
have been able to make substantial savings. Wages paid in kind are
given in the form of coupons for wheat or rice to be redeemed at
government-run fair price shops within two months of issue. Many
families reported that with shortages of foodgrains during the first
three years they had been able supplement their diet with forest
products such as tubers, bhaji (leafy vegetables available in summer
and the rainy season) and other edible plants. (See appendix II for
further information on this subject). Some of them also planted paddy
and vegetables on their plots as intercrops. These products gave them
an added supply of food and in some cases, income from the sale of
surplus grains. The vegetable crops were mainly cultivated for sale,
with only the unsold portion used domestically.
9. The seven villages visited during fieldwork were:
Name of Area in ha Population No. of households Participating
Boriachh 652 1 896 336 46
Chikatia 237 846 153 29
Gangpur 440 1 434 243 27
Ghodmal 1 724 2 468 470 17
Lachhakdi 654 1 270 238 38
Mindhabari 414 1 180 197 19
The figures were provided by BAIF workers in the respective
- 40 -
2.2.5 Farm forestry component of the scheme
Each family planted 4 500 trees on its 1.5 acres of degraded
forest land. The general mixture of species planted in most cases
was: Eucalyptus 2 000 saplings, subavul 2 000 saplings and bamboo 55
saplings. Women planted the saplings and were paid Rs. 0.30 per
plant. Now they are being trained to raise nurseries for forest trees
by the extension workers of the Forest Department. Each family is
asked to raise 1 250 seedlings; seeds can be obtained from BAIF
according to the family's choice of species. Most of the families
have so far opted for a mixed variety.
Presently, under this scheme the tribal families have more than a
million forest trees grown on their plots, as noted below:
Subavul 454 325
Nilgirl 445 321
Saroo 115 948
Bamboo 16 736
Others 3 356
Total 1 035 686
2.2.6 Other components of the scheme
Fruit trees Each family began its orchard by initially planting
20 mango saplings, 5 of sapota, 5 of guava, 5 of custard apple and 5
of jackfruit. With one hundred per cent survival of the plants,
families which started cultivation in 1982 were able to harvest the
fruits in the fifth year (1986). Most fruits were sold, with those
unfit for sale consumed domestically.
Vegetable cultivation Intercrops of vegetables grown by women
are also maintained and disbursed by them. They sell them at the
vegetable market in town and, in accordance with tribal customs, keep
the sale earnings themselves. Men do not have any control over their
A family planting trees
- 41 -
Paddy and/or wheat cultivation
Some families are able to grow intercrops of paddy/wheat,
providing the members with an adequate supply of foodgrains. Among
the Kotvalia tribals, both women and men engage in basket-making,
previously their sole means of livelihood. Now this, coupled with
agroforestry, has done away with the need to work as paid agricultural
or other labourers.
2.2.7 Supply of Fuelwood and Fodder for Domestic Use
Participating families from seven villages reported a
considerable increase in the supply of fuelwood and fodder for both
domestic use and the market. It should be remembered that these
families had no land and therefore no source of access to these
commodities; in that light, the present supply of tops and lops of
forest trees and agro-waste is indeed a considerable gain for these
Many farmers sell green fodder to cattle-rearing families.
Others use timber from their trees for the construction of new houses.
Previously, most tribals lived in ramshackle one-room huts. Now in
several villages the village Panchayat has allowed plots to house
rehabilitated tribals; some of them have built larger huts, using wood
from their own trees.
It is clear that though the trees are not yet ready for
harvesting, partial cutting and collection of green fodder has already
begun. Women and children still go to the forest to collect fuelwood
and fodder, but they go less frequently. In the near future they
expect that their own plantations will meet their entire needs for
fuelwood and fodder.
2.2.8 The traditional dependence of tribals on forests
Traditionally all the tribals lived around forests and depended
for their survival needs on forest products. Even after settling down
as agriculturists they still look upon forests as providers of many
necessary articles for use in their daily life. The use of minor
forest products in the tribal economy is still significant for the
very sustenance of these people.
The headman of the Kotvalia group said that dealing with forest
trees was nothing new for tribals: "We have grown with them and
understand them as we know the lines of our palms". On being asked
how the forest trees could be useful for them, many persons answered
with a smile, "You want to know how friends can be useful to each
other. There are thousands of uses of forest trees in fact, too
many to enumerate and they may be difficult for you to even
understand". There was no doubt that tribal families felt most at
home cultivating and using the trees, as if renewing their old
relationship with them.
10. The Kotvalia is one of the 72 tribal communities identified as
living at a pre-agricultural level of technology. It is
estimated that there are about 1 500 Kotvalia families living in
the forest area of South Gujarat. Of the 70 families of the
Kotvalia tribe, 67 in Gangpur village have joined the BAIF
scheme. Their apparent well-being at present is attributed to
the fact that as pre-agricultural tribals they are entitled to a
100 per cent subsidy for development projects. BAIF has procured
this source of welfare for them.
- 42 -
Some Kotvalia men expressed great relief at owning the bamboo
trees on their plots. An old man said: "Previously we stole bamboo
from the forest and remained in mortal fear of being caught and
punished by the forester. Now there is no such fear and we can use as
much bamboo as we like to weave baskets. Before, we were expected to
purchase each bamboo we used. How could we purchase them without any
money? We had to take a risk and steal".
2.2.9 Farm forestry perceived as savings in the bank
It is clear that the tribals of' Bansda, unlike the Vankar of
Vadgam in Kheda District, do not view tree planting activities as a
mere source of employment and regular income. For them depending on
forest trees is a way of life and the usufructuary rights over forest
land are viewed by them as a godsent gift. The enthusiasm and vigour
shown by the participants in this scheme can be seen as indications of
identification of a purpose. The purposefulness is, however, still
quite vague and undefined, whereas the Jaspara farmers had distinctly
connected farm forestry with cash income and adopted it for a clearly
perceived goal of earning cash. Without the specificity of purpose,
it is possible for the tribals to unknowingly provide their labour for
industrial production of timber.
Since the Bansda tribals are the predominant group of society,
they do not have to contend with other castes (as the Vankar in Vadgam
have to); therefore it seems easier for them to adapt to new work
patterns. They do not seem to be facing internal or external threats
to their participation in the scheme. As long as they are prepared to
work hard and keep off alcohol and as long as the support structures
help them during the initial stages of self-employment, the
continuation of the project seems to be assured.
The cash income from forest trees does not appear to play as
significant a part in their perception as it does in the case of the
Jaspara farmers. Some of the well-informed leaders of the tribal
communities are aware of the market price of polewood from Eucalyptus
and hope to earn good incomes in the near future. On the other hand,
the organizers of the scheme are currently playing down the 'selling'
aspect of tree crops and therefore not many of the participants talk
about it. Most of them said that they view the trees as a form of
investment for future use, like a "safe deposit account in the bank".
Income from the trees does not form part of their immediate plans.
Tribal women are aware of the potential of trees as a source of
income. When asked about the possible use of that income, they
replied that income would belong to the men, so therefore the women
cannot plan its disposal. When it was pointed out that the women too
have contributed their labour to raising trees, they were quick to
add: "That gives us the right to nag our husbands to spend the income
on household items". One woman went as far as to say: "Maybe my
husband will agree to buy a television set for the family". (The
village has recently been electrified.)
2.2.10 Multi-dimensional nature of the scheme
As farm forestry is only one component of the scheme, tribals act
according to their inclination and choice by emphasising any one of
the multi-dimensional aspects of the scheme. For example, the
Kotvalia tribals are very keen on maintaining and augmenting the
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cultivation of bamboo, while others are content to plant only a few
Eucalyptus and casurina, as they want to concentrate on fruit trees.
One farmer increased the number of his mango trees fivefold through
grafting techniques. Some others have become interested in developing
their fields for paddy cultivation. Though they maintain about 4 000
to 4 500 trees on their 1.5 acres, all of them are not totally
concerned with farm forestry alone.
2.2.11 Marketing and alternative courses of action for the produce
from farm forestry
BAIF is quite clear that it will not be able to help farmers sell
polewood. First, the villages are far away from the urban centres and
the problem of transporting the wood to the market will mean a
significant cut in profits. Second, BAIF fears the saturation of the
polewood market by the time Bansda tribals will be ready to harvest
For these reasons BAIF is avoiding any suggestions to farmers
that they sell polewood. Alternatively, BAIF is proceeding on two
fronts: (i) the possibility of developing light industries using
polewood, e.g., making packaging crates and (ii) developing wood-based
energy production with the help of the Gujarat Energy Development
- 44 -
The first alternative is so far only in the planning stage, while
the second alternative has already shown some progress with the
introduction of 14 gasifier plants in 1985. Of these only four plants
are functioning while others have developed various malfunctions.
These gasifiers are mini-plants, compared to the one set-up by
V.J. Patel in Bhavnagar. These machines reduce diesel consumption of
diesel-operated pumps used for irrigation. A wood-based gasifier
(which produces gas by burning wood) and a duelfuel engine are coupled
to a generator; consequently, the pumping set uses 80 per cent diesel
and 20 per cent wood-produced gas. Technical experts from GEDA are
now trying to develop a model which would replace nearly 50 per cent
of the diesel with wood-produced gas. In these plants, one kilogram
of chopped wood produces one unit of power. The plants are operated
by local farmers with a minimum of training.
The GEDA representative (who happened to be visiting these plants
at the time of fieldwork) was quite optimistic about current research
in the conversion of wood for the generation of power. He visualised
the utilization of power produced in this manner to provide
electricity to the villagers for domestic and agricultural use.
A Bamboo Plantation in Gangpur Village, Bansda Taluka.
2.2.12 Complete Dependence of Tribals on BAIF
After five years of operation of the seven-year programme,
participating tribal families are at present completely dependent on
the organizers of the scheme for the flow of financial inputs. Even
those farmers who no longer receive wage-support are dependent on BAIF
for material inputs. Though the frontline participants have gained
self-confidence in managing their farms, they still require support
for material inputs and organizational services of BAIF.
- 45 -
Additionally, a large proportion of new entrants continue to require
an ever-increasing flow of funds and/or resources.
If the organizers pull out after a certain number of years, it
is not clear how the participating families will manage to service the
irrigation pipes and water tanks, and check the dams on their own.
Presently, a highly sophisticated team of professional management
experts devise irrigation plans for the area and BAIF field staff
maintains the structures. The farmers are utilizing these services as
given factors in the situation. They have no idea how they are
managed and without the constant collaboration of BAIF, the farmers
cannot be expected to harvest the rain water flowing through the
Various government departments have either given usufructuary
rights to the tribals or channelled through BAIF certain funds for
providing rural employment and material inputs. No department has
taken responsibility for providing services of any kind. Even the
medical facilities given by a UNICEF programme go through BAIF
Tribal farmers, who carried out the implementation of most
activities in the project, can again provide their manual and skilled
labour; they can not, however, be expected to afford the cost of
material inputs. The lift irrigation scheme of the area Its
installation and maintenance can be profitable for pipe
manufacturers but the "method of funding and social consequences" for
the beneficiaries of the scheme also need to be questioned (see Savur
- 47 -
1. Farm forestry on agricultural land
If it is apparent that capitalist agriculture is the main trend
in rural development in Gujarat in particular and of India in general,
there is no escaping the fact that the cultivation of forest trees is
inevitably based on the rational of profit-calculations. The market
for polewood is then obviously linked with industrial and/or
commercial enterprises. This explains why a large farmer with
sufficient capital and a better entry into the timber market
successfully adopts farm forestry on his agricultural land. On the
other hand, due to the lack of capital resources and market
information, small farmers face problems growing and selling forest
From this perspective, non-cash benefits and ecological gains of
farm forestry become subsidiary for the farmers and a kind of alibi in
the hands of the government for promoting commercial development of
tree plantations. As in Vadgam village of Kheda District, even for
small/marginal farmers and landless agricultural labourers, growing
trees is mainly an income-generating activity.
1.1 Interest in Farm Forestry
The cost-benefit ratio of growing forest trees on agricultural
land is at present based on prevailing values of polewood and other
tree products. It is possible for the polewood market to drop in the
wake of an over-supply. In that circumstance one can not expect a
sustained interest in tree crops on the part of capitalist farmers.
The small/marginal farmers and landless agricultural labourers may
still continue to grow trees even at less attractive profits because
they require cash to meet their basic needs in today's monetary
economy. It is therefore possible to interest the rural poor in
raising trees as cash crops.
The increased supply of fuelwood, fodder and other forest
products has to be assigned a secondary role in farm forestry. To
state it as the primary aim of social (farm) forestry projects gives
an impression of deliberate displacement of priorities on the part of
planners and policy-makers, because neither the foresters nor the
farmers are at present thinking about farm forestry strictly for the
1.1.1 The Forest Department's interest in farm forestry
The role of the Forest Department in drawing the rural poor to
farm forestry has so far emphasised the importance of trees as a
source of cash income. The foresters seem to have uniformly advocated
the planting of Eucalyptus by farmers in different regions (see
Chandrashekhar, Krishna Murti, Ramaswamy 1987). They have not always
taken into account the nature of land characteristics in different
agro-climatic zones. The Jaspara farmers had to find for themselves
that Eucalyptus is an unsuitable tree crop for dry land without
- 48 -
1.1.2 Impact on the local labour market
Like most cash crops, unless planted on extremely non-productive
land, forest trees have had an adverse impact on labour use in the
region, thereby adding to the increasing number of agricultural
labourers in rural areas of Gujarat. As wood-base industries have not
yet developed in and around villages to absorb the displaced
agricultural labourers, the landless view the factor of labour
reduction caused by the adoption of farm forestry as having a serious
negative impact on the local labour market.
1.1.3 Polewood market organization
If growing of trees can be legitimately recognized as an
income-generating activity, the organization of a polewood market with
a fixed minimum selling price can encourage small farmers to continue
raising forest trees. At the same time an increased flow of
information on the polewood market would assist farmers in locating
1.2 Designing Farm Forestry Projects to Meet a Multiplicity of Needs
The government and other agencies involved in planning and
policy-making have to contend with ecological questions and needs of
the population for fuelwood and fodder. The cultivation of trees by
the farmers on their agricultural land is at present catering to the
needs of the commercial market for polewood. This obviously meets
neither survival needs of the rural poor nor the ecological needs of
the area; consequently, many grassroot movements actually oppose
government-sponsored social forestry programmes. This again makes it
difficult to effectively increase the participation of small farmers
in farm forestry. Clearly, the two quite different goals (one of
responding to the needs of the commercial polewood and the other of
providing enough wood for use by the rural poor) must also aim towards
restoration of the ecological balance. The participants in farm
forestry do not yet perceive their role in any of the three major
issues concerning forestry.
Presently, social forestry projects are so designed as to include
on paper the objectives of increasing the supply of fuelwood, fodder
and tree products for rural people, restoring the ecological balance,
giving employment to landless labourers and meeting the needs for
timber by industrial enterprises. In practice, the government,
through the Forest Department, has successfully carried out a
tree-planting programme, but has yet to look into the long-term
interests of tree growers. Not all farmers may be able to adopt the
monoculture plantation of commercial species due to their need to grow
food crops on agricultural land. Even marginal farmers and landless
labourers may decide to contribute to a long-term project of
afforestation through growing trees in mixed forests so that not only
they but the next generation may derive benefits. However, the
existing pattern of farm forestry is too limited for a free exercise
of choice by farmers, without more effective supports.
- 49 -
2. Farm forestry on wasteland,
Including degraded forests
2.1 Equity in the Vadgam Experience
The involvement of agricultural labourers and marginal farmers in
planting trees and thereby securing employment and regular income can
be seen as one way of achieving a measure of equity through farm
2.1.1 Benefits in the Vankar village case
From the Prosopis juliflora farm in Vadgam village, the entire
membership of the Vankar cooperative can expect to derive benefits of
employment and regular income on a permanent basis as long as the
cooperative is not monopolised by a group of individuals, and
collective gains are placed higher than individual gains. This
example shows that it is not the farm forestry per se which provides
benefits to the people, but it is in fact an overall impact of various
types of development support (including the creation of favourable
conditions for farm forestry) that enables a group of people to derive
benefits in smaller or greater measure.
From the perspective of the Vankar community, additional income
from farm forestry provides them with the ability to (1) improve their
standard of living (in terms of nutrition, better care of sick
persons) and (11) fight social injustices forced upon them by Rajput
farmers. Vankar women have especially benefitted from employment at
the cooperative plantation as a means of ending exploitative relations
with Rajput farming families.
2.1.2 Problems in the Vankar case
The Vadgam example also shows that focusing on one section of the
village population isolates that group from the rest of the village
and hence a perpetual state of conflict is created, in which the
powerless and poor can be subjected to oppressive measures. This
situation can impede the smooth operation and rapid growth of the
project, but cannot stop it altogether.
Lack of market research on polewood and other tree products has
presently brought about various problems for the participants and the
organizers of the Vankar cooperative. Obviously, it is not sufficient
to cooperate in order to grow trees; farm foresters also need to
cooperate to sell tree crops and their products.
2.1.3 Constraints on tree growing by rural poor
The role played by the organizers and other development agencies,
including many government departments, in helping landless people grow
trees is not, unfortunately, enough to enable them to continue these
activities on their own. This indicates that the powerful and
affluent groups in the society are unwilling to share the benefits of
development with the poor. Without the current support of development
agencies, it is not clear that the poor will continue growing trees
for very long. In other words, unless the rural poor are able to
develop political clout it is not possible for them to afforest rural
areas, despite the fact that farm forestry may be the "least costly
and economically the most effective approach" to afforestation.
- 50 -
2.1.4 Developing local support systems
It can be argued that for any development project, including farm
forestry, a support system in the initial stages is a prerequisite
step in planning. For a long-term impact of the project it is
essential, however, to incorporate within project planning mechanisms
which are not absolutely dependent on the support system. Moreover,
larger socioeconomic forces must be checked from pushing the poor into
sole reliance on charity organizations or commercial interests. In
the Vadgam Vankar case, the initial funds for farm forestry operations
came primarily from charity organizations abroad. Rural development
based on charity from abroad creates a new power block within the
village community. The rich and powerful groups in villages and urban
centres tolerate the newly created force of the rural poor only to the
extent that it does not clash with their self-interests. However, the
apparent loss of control over a cheaply available source of labour
pushes the dominant groups to destroy the unity of the poor. The
ensuing conflict leads to further weakening of the already weak and
poor. On the other hand, if material rewards of economic activities
are to be equitably distributed, all sections of the society have to
accept the right of each group to a minimum standard of living. As
support from charity organizations at home or abroad cannot bring
about this acceptance, the Vadgam community needs to develop local
support structures if farm forestry is to last.
2.2 Lessons from Tribal Experiences with Farm Forestry
Tribals have been quick to take advantage of non-cash benefits in
the forms of increased supply of fuelwood, fodder and other tree
products. This has been facilitated by their ongoing contact with
forests, continued use of forest products, and correspondingly less
dependence on cash economy.
2.2.1 Impact of agroforestry on malnutrition
The tribal communities have been singled out in Gujarat (as
elsewhere in India) as the rural sector most affected by malnutrition
and undernutrition. Agroforestry, being developed by the Bansda
tribals under the professional management of BAIF, is expected to
A forestry worker with his family inside their dwelling
- 51 -
positively affect the intake of calories and variety of food by tribal
families. It is, however, too early to begin to measure the extent of
the impact of agroforestry. The visibility of such an impact can only
be seen after a longer period of participation in farm forestry.
2.2.2 Long-term impact on socioeconomic development of tribals
The long-term socio-economic development of the tribal
communities through this rehabilitation scheme is considered doubtful
(see Savur 1987). The Sadguru Seva Sangh Trust (SSST), precursor of
BAIF in this region, lifted a small section of the tribal population
"above the abysmal poverty in which they had lived" (Savur 1987:
M-43). Under BAIF management, the percentage of participating
families has increased, but at the same time there have been those who
have given up their membership. Ostensibly the rehabilitation of the
Bansda tribals is geared to provide self-employment and thereby an
improved standard of living for them. The link between BAIF and an
industrial/business house (Savur 1987) makes one look closely into the
purpose and techniques of rural development, including farm forestry
under the scheme. Growing industrially useful wood on degraded forest
land in the region may well be connected with the district's paper and
pulpwood industry, which would explain why BAIF has no immediate and
well-defined plans for the disposal of timber grown by tribals. The
question arises: why has not BAIF openly stated its intention when
asking Bansda tribals to involve themselves in farm forestry for
industrial use? The participants in the scheme are obviously not
aware of the implications of their membership. When the rural poor
are involved in farm forestry (or any other economic activity) without
actively participating in the planning and execution of development
projects, thus being treated as mere tools, problems in the
development process will surface sooner or later. The planners and
policy makers of forestry projects can perhaps help farmers clearly
understand various forms and uses of tree crops, and then assist them
in exercising their options.
Tribal huts, fruit trees, nursery beds for forest trees, pipeline for
irrigation in Boriachh Village, Bansda Taluka.
- 52 -
2.2.3 Self-ownership schemes
Both the Kheda and Valsad cases describe the adoption of farm
forestry by the rural poor on wastelands. Following the recent
concern of the Government of India with the development of wastelands
through afforestation it is possible that the landless and marginal
farmers will be encouraged to grow trees under self-ownership of land.
Under the circumstance it is necessary to look in greater detail into
the nature of problems arising out of such schemes. This report
points out possible areas of investigation requiring additional field
Recently, commercial establishments in India have approached the
government to allow them to establish tree plantations on a portion of
wasteland in the country (see The Times of India, March 5 and 6, 1987,
New Delhi edition). Giving the land to the rich and leaving them the
profits while asking the rural poor to serve plantation owners for
extremely poor wages is obviously exploitive. But then certain
questions arise: are apparently self-employed Bansda tribals not being
exploited? Are Vankar of Vadgam village in a position to continue
their interest in farm forestry and thereby improve their standard of
living? Can the Jaspara farmers hope to gain a better entry into the
market for polewood? These are the important questions facing actual
practioners of farm forestry in Gujarat.
- 53 -
Definitions of the terms used in the report
Agricultural land The land on which farmers cultivate food
grain and/or cash crops.
Agroforestry A pattern of land use in which trees and shrubs
are grown along with annual food or other crops and/or livestock.
Benefits The measurable value of goods produced as a result of
growing trees. Farmers when interviewed gave only the cash values of
trees sold in the market as benefits from farm forestry. Products
used domestically were not considered as tangible benefits because
these (fuelwood and fodder) were collected by their families at zero
financial expenditure. The general scarcity of these goods and the
consequent hardships in terms of the allocation of more time and
energy experienced by wood-gatherers (women and children) were not
counted as opportunity costs because in most rural areas women and
children were deemed to have no alternative uses of their labour and
Costs The measurable value of (1) material inputs (seed,
fertilizer and chemical spray), (ii) other inputs (hours of labour),
and (iii) forgone opportunities to cultivate alternative crops.
Cost-benefit ratio This is arrived at by dividing the cash
value of costs by the cash value of benefits.
Degraded forest Forest lands become degraded when the
regeneration of trees, shrubs and grass is inhibited because of severe
top soil erosion, loss of ground cover or compactness of soil. Most
of the forests in Gujarat, except those in the south, are suffering
from the above conditions.
Farm forestry The raising of trees as a crop on their land by
individual farmers or farm families, for household use and/or for the
market. Privately managed tree-growing on community land and public
land allocation schemes (for private tree growing) are reckoned as
farm forestry, as is the growing of trees on wasteland, including
degraded forests, by landless agricultural labourers and marginal
farmers through cooperative schemes.
Large, middle and small farmer A classification of farmers
followed by the EGSFP Report, which considers farmers with less than
2 hectares of land as small, those with land between 2 and 5 hectares
as middle, and those with more than 5 hectares of land as large. This
operational definition has to be qualified in each case with reference
to local land characteristics which may in some areas make the owner
of 3 hectares of land a small farmer, e.g. in Vadgam village of Cambay
Taluka in Kheda district the owner of 10 acres of land is considered
to be a small farmer.
Marginal farmer A landowner with little or unproductive land,
generally dependent on earning part of the family income as hired
agricultural or other labour.
Wasteland All lands affected by water erosion, wind erosion,
floods, water-logging, soil salinisation, and soil alkalisation,
thereby rendered unfit for cultivation of most plants. In India, the
calculation of the total area under wasteland generally includes
degraded forest lands.
- 55 -
An all-women project of farm forestry
in Mehsana District
In Ganeshpura village of Mehsana district, the Self-Employed
Women's Association (SEWA) has attempted to motivate women to practice
farm forestry on a plot of one hectare of land, given to the women by
the Village Panchayat in May 1986. The project of planting Eucalyptus
trees with the supply of seedlings from a nearby nursery (run by the
Forest Department) began in June 1986 with an all-women task force.
Farm forestry in this case, as in Vadgam village, is considered a
means of securing employment and hence a regular income for
participants. SEWA secured funds from NREP to provide women with
employment, by raising trees on the common village grazing land (given
by the village panchayat).
Nearly 11 000 seedlings were planted by village women of lower
and middle castes. They were employed on a daily basis to prepare the
land, dig pits, plant seedlings, irrigate them and dig trenches on the
boundary of the plot to keep the grazing animals off the plants.
Owing to drought conditions and the hostility of certain members of
high castes in the village, not even 1 000 plants survived. At the
time of the visit to Ganeshpura on 28 November 1986, the plot appeared
to be a part of the wasteland around the village.
- 56 -
Despite their failure the women of Ganeshpura's lower and middle
castes were still prepared to work hard to raise trees, provided NREP
funds were again available to employ them. SEWA workers proposed that
this time the women first raise a nursery, then in the 1987 rainy
season plant more seedlings on the same plot of land.
SEWA workers hoped that from Decem'ber 1986 to June 1987 external
and internal problems of the project could be resolved. In meetings
of the village panchayat, SEWA workers planned to discuss the hostile
attitude of high caste people towards the project and thereby control
destructive actions such as the uprooting of saplings and filling in
boundary trenches. Secondly, there were internal struggles among
village women themselves. Scheduled-caste women did not want to be
led by women of middle-castes. SEWA had, on the other hand, already
trained some middle-caste women for leadership roles during its
"improved chulha campaign" in the village. Now they needed time to
establish a better rapport with scheduled-caste women.
Several farmers in Ganeshpura had also planted forest tree
seedlings on their farm boundaries. Again, due to drought these
seedlings had all died.
- 57 -
Pattern of food security from forest products
by the tribals of Bansda
Food resources found in the forest ecology are used by the
tribals in Bansda to carry them through periods of relative food
shortage and thus to save themselves from virtual starvation.
Recourse to gathering is presently limited to the following varieties
Tubers In Bansda region, tribals are able to collect eight to
ten types of yam (wild tubers). Before consumption, the tubers and
bulbs are kept in running water for a whole day and then washed
repeatedly before boiling. Large quantities of tubers are collected
during the monsoon season when tribals depend on them almost as staple
Edible plants A generic term for the edible greens is 'bhaji'.
In the region, tribals gather about twenty kinds of 'bhaji', primarily
available during the summer and rainy seasons. Each family is able to
collect about 17 to 20 kg of 'bhaji' during the four to five months.
A leafy vegetable called Tera is collected a fortnight after the
advent of rains and offered to the ancestors and the mountain deity
before anyone is allowed to consume it. The ritual is known as the
festival of Terasan. It is believed that the blessings of the
ancestors and the mountain deity provide the tribals with the leafy
vegetable in abundance so that they may cross the difficult period of
food shortage. Young shoots of bamboo (vasdi) are also used as a
vegetable, and mushroom collection is also quite common in this area.
Wild fruits Wild fruits are eaten by the tribals on the way to
and from work to ward off starvation. Children are the main consumers
of wild fruits and therefore also the traditional gatherers of a wide
variety of fruits.
Farm forestry on degraded forest land in Chikatia Vi-lage, Bansda
The most important among the fruits, Mahuda, is used by tribals
in different ways. Mahuda flowers are eaten as a vegetable. Its
kernel is used for making butter (ghee). It is also used for
distilling an alcoholic drink. An average household gathers about 20
kg of this fruit per year.
Tribals know how edible roots, leafy vegetables and wild fruits
should be processed for human consumption and sometimes take them as
full meals. The subsistence activity of gathering edible plants is
supplemented by fishing. Various plants (e.g., aritha (Sapindu
laurifolius) and pandharphali (Securingaga virosa) are used as
fish-poison to catch fish easily.
Many tribals identify a number of roots, tubers, creepers, herbs
and shrubs as medicinally valuable. Usually the medical practitioners
among them have a thorough knowledge and experience of gathering and
using these medicinal plants. For example, dhadhed kand (Dioscoraceae
family) is used for snake bites, umbar (Ficus gloracemosa) is used for
stomach aches and bible (Pterocarpyus marsupium) and rohini (Soymida
febrifunga) are used for treating leucoderma.
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