Bengal to Start Pilot on Seed Balls Dispersion

Bengal forest department will conduct its maiden project to spread Seed balls in the arid regions of the state from July 14

With an aim to boost green cover in the water-parched areas of Bengal, the state forest department has decided to conduct the state’s first pilot project for spreading seed balls onto barren land. The project would start during the state’s Van Mahotsav Week, beginning July 14.

Self-help groups (SHG) as well as students would be spreading the seed balls on barren land. Two SHGs have been employed to make the balls and for now, around 40,000 balls have been made.

According to reports, the first project will be in the Kotsila forest range under Purulia forest division. Later, the experiment would be extended to the Ayodhya Hills which is also situated in Purulia district.

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“We had planned to spread the seed balls for massive afforestation projects in the barren lands of Purulia. Charcoal powder is mixed with soil and made into small balls and in each ball there will be three small seeds. The seeds will go inside the soil after the ball mixes and germination will take place, ” said Soma Sarkar Das, ranger of Kotsila forest range.

This process is known as Associated Succession. In social forestry, the ground is dug and the saplings are planted at stipulated distances. In dry or arid areas, where there is less availability of water, normal sapling plantations often fail. This is where seed balls come into the picture.

Charcoal acts as compost. The clay keeps the seeds moist as they germinate, the compost nourishes them as they grow, implanting themselves in the soil. The Bengal forest department is using seeds of Sonajhuri, Neem, Jamul, Tamarind, Bael, Dates, etc. to make the seed balls.

The department is confident that this technique will open up a new chapter in social forestry in Bengal. The seed ball sowing method is also considered to be more cost-effective.

In India, seed ball forestry is quite common in states like Karnataka, Kerala, Chattisgarh and Rajasthan and was first carried out in Tamil Nadu in 1987. Bengal is trying to replicate Karnataka’s famous Bandipur Tiger Reserve experience where seeds balls have been spread and fresh green cover has been generated successfully by the forest department.

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