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5. Forestry research intiatives for poverty reduction
P.K. Shukla
[6] and S.S. Bisen[7]


Tropical Forest Research Institute, Jabalpur, is one of the premier institutions under ICFRE, working for the forestry research needs of four central Indian states, viz. Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Orissa. Developing appropriate models of agroforestry, popularizing cultivation of medicinal plants among the farmers, developing conservation methods of multiple-use forest flora, developing species-specific biofertilizers for enhancement of productivity in natural forest, value addition of NTFPs, including bamboo, are some of the works among the thrust areas addressed by the institute. The institute has also taken care to take the results to the user groups so as to make the forest ventures more attractive and economically viable. Some of the technologies developed by the institute are described in this paper.


Poverty is not an income determined outcome alone and therefore, increasing attention is now placed on the capability factors of poverty. It is a multi-dimensional phenomenon and it is always difficult to disentangle its causes and consequences. The nature and quality of governance largely determine the results of development efforts and success of poverty alleviation strategies, irrespective of the quality of design and amount of investment.

Poverty alleviation has found its place time and again as the goal of national plans and policies of Government of India with very little success on the ground. The strategies to overcome poverty should be diverse, recognizing the differences among people and their opportunities for sustainable living standards. Rural masses in India, particularly tribals, are poor because they have not acquired essential assets since they live in remote areas, where the resources available have not been properly identified and utilized.

Central India is well known for its rich and vast biodiversity, owing to its diverse climatic zones. Non-wood forest products (NWFPs) are distributed in all bio-climatic zones ranging from dry deciduous to tropical coasts. Collection and marketing of NWFPs is a way of life for poor people, especially in predominantly tribal areas, to meet their daily needs.

Central India also has different types of NWFPs, which can be a very good source for social upliftment. However these are not being utilized properly and are being destroyed as people are unaware of their importance. Tropical Forest Research Institute, Jabalpur, has taken initiatives in this direction by way of carrying out research on propagation, multiplication and suitable value addition at local levels. The research carried out so far is on a few selected plant species having good potential in indigenous as well as international market.


Mushroom cultivation

Mushrooms are saprophytic fungi that convert decaying matter into their own food. The major commercial use of mushrooms is for food. However, many species are inedible or poisonous, so the ability to identify these fungi is critical to harvesting and cultivation. Mushrooms are also cultivated for other uses, such as bio-pulping processes, to reduce some of the toxic materials in municipal dumps and as dyes for textiles. There are several species of forest mushrooms, which are used for such commercial purposes. TFRI has developed technology for cultivation of two common edible mushrooms with the objectives of introducing them to the rural masses to enhance their income. The technology includes:

Two crops of white button mushroom and year-round cultivation of oyster mushroom can be undertaken. Cultivation of Agaricus bisporus (25 trays; 1 m x 1/2 m x 0.20 m) can give profit of Rs. 2650 per winter season. Cultivation of oyster mushroom (500 bags; 30 x 35 cm) can give profit of Rs. 5530 per month.

Cultivation of Ganoderma lucidum, a medicinal mushroom

Ganoderma lucidum mushroom is also called Ling-zhi in Chinese or Reishi, Saru-no-koshikake and Mannendake in Japanese. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) values Reishi as the highest ranked medicine. Ganoderma lucidum naturally occurs in the sal forest of India. It is also a parasite on several multipurpose trees like Albizia procera, Leucaena leucocephal and Pongamia pinnata, etc. TFRI has worked on standardization of technology for the commercial cultivation of this mushroom and to promote its cultivation by developing simple methodology, which can be adopted by the rural poor:

Vegetable dyes

A number of plant species (Table 1) growing naturally in central Indian forests, like Butea monosperma, Eclipta alba and Lawsonia inermis, are the important sources of vegetable dyes. Flowers, leaves, roots, fruits of many native plants growing naturally in the forest can be utilized for extracting dyes. With the advent of synthetic dyes, demand of these natural vegetable dyes had come down drastically, but nowadays several synthetic dyes are being banned for human consumption as well as for cosmetic use. Importance of natural vegetable dyes that are safe and eco-friendly is once again being realized. TFRI has initiated a research programme to extract vegetable dyes from available natural sources and develop cheaper technology for dye extraction.

Table 1. Vegetable dye extracted from different plants

Botanical name

Common name


Plant parts employed

Percentage of crude dye

Colour of dye


Bixa orellana





O-Yellow; W-Orange

Colouring cheese, drinks, margarine, cosmetics

Butea monosperma




30-35 (W)
9.2 (W)
sugar free


Drinks, fabrics

Woodfordia fruticosa




19-54 (W)

Reddish brown

Tanning leather, fabrics

Eclipta alba




16 (O+W)


Colouring of hair, Hair oil, Hair tonics





16 (W)


Colouring of hair, Cosmetics

Nyctanthes arbor-tristis



Corolla tubes

30 (W)


Beverages, Soft drinks

W - Water soluble dye; O - Oil soluble dye

Forest - a natural source of saponins

Saponins are glycosidic compounds, characterized by their surface active properties. Nowadays these compounds are gaining importance due to a variety of pharmacological and physiological activities. TFRI has taken initiatives to survey and identify plant resources rich in saponin contents and to study their properties for medicinal as well as insecticidal uses. The following have been investigated and show potential. With further value addition, they can be utilized for commercial purposes:

Food from forest

Natural forests are reservoirs of fruits, rhizomes, roots and leaves, which are very rich in carbohydrates, proteins, starch and minerals. The tribal population living in the forests utilizes these as food supplements. At present these valuable resources are either under utilized or over utilized, whereas they have potential to provide sustained income to the forest dwellers. TFRI has initiated work on standardization of technologies for the extraction of starch and carbohydrates that can be further utilized for making neutraceuticals. Work on standardization of technologies for extraction of starch and carbohydrates from plants like Curcuma angustifolia and Curculigo orchioides is currently in progress.

New raw material for incense

Over exploitation of the bark of Litsea and Machilus has brought these two tree species to threatened status. A cheaper substitute for these two species has been found in Hyptes suaveolens, a weed growing in the forest of central India. Technology for making incense sticks utilizing mucilage from seeds of this species has been standardized.

Conservation and cultivation of medicinal plants

India is included among the 12 mega-biodiversity nations. Nearly 15 000 plant species are being used as medicine, from this diverse flora. Medicnial plants are living and irreparable resource, which is exhaustible if over used and sustainable if used with care and wisdom. Importance of medicinal plans has been overlooked in the past. However, at present medicinal plants are looked upon not only as a source of affordable health care but also as a source of income. According to WHO report, over 80 percent of the world population relies on traditional medicine largely plant-based for their primary healthcare needs. The position cannot be sustained further because, on the one hand, forest cover is steadily shrinking and on the other, the requirement of medicinal plants and herbs is increasing steeply. In order to conserve the gene pool of medicinal plant reserves and standardize their cultivation techniques, ex-situ conservation is very much needed. TFRI has taken the task of conserving medicinal plants, rare, endangered and threatened species, and bamboo of Satpura and Vindhya region by establishing medicinal plant garden at the TFRI campus.

Cultivation and propagation techniques of rare, endangered and comercially important species like Chlorophytum borivillianum (safed musli), Curcuma caesia (kali haldi), Acorus calamus (bach), Gloriosa superba (kalihari), Crataeva magna (varun), Strychnos potatorum (nirmali), Abelmoschus moschatus (muskdana), Asperagus recemosus (satawar), Plumbago zeylanica (chitrak), etc. have been standardised. The institute has also promoted cultivation of these species in the farmers fields by extension activities.


TFRI has established a well-equipped bio-technology laboratory with trained scientific staff. The institute has started a programme of developing protocols for tissue culture of bamboo and rare, endangered and threatened species of medicinal plants. There are also very good facilities for vegetative multiplication in mist-chamber and green-house-conditions. Tissue culture protocols of five Bambusa and three Dendrocalamus spp. are available at TFRI.


Agroforestry combines agriculture and forestry technologies to create integrated, diverse, productive, profitable, healthy and sustainable land-use systems, with the purpose of sustainable development. Practices are focused on meeting the economic, environmental and social needs of people on their private lands. Agroforestry practices are intentional combinations of trees with crops and/or livestock that involve intensive management of the interactions between the components as an integrated agroecosystem. These key characteristics are the essence of agroforestry and are what distinguish it from other farming or forestry practices. To be called agroforestry, a land-use practice must satisfy all of these criteria. Combinations of trees, crops and/or animals are intentionally designed and managed as a whole unit, rather than as individual elements that may occur in close proximity but are controlled separately. Keeping the above fact in mind, integrated cropping models have been developed at TFRI for central Indian condition. These include:

Babul-paddy model

Integration of MPTs like babul with agriculture crop provides a number of products to supplement the income and also enhances yield of the agriculture crops.

Teak-safed musli model

Integration of safed musli with teak utilizes the idle space of teak plantations and provides intermittent income to the growers.

Bach-paddy model

Integration of bach with paddy is a beneficial combination for paddy growers.

Silvi-olericultural model

Vegetables like bhindi, carrot, radish, spinach, cowpea and tomato can be integrated with multipurpose tree species like Dalbergia sissoo (sissu), Albizzia procera (safed siris) and Acacia nilotica (babul) resulting in additional perennial yield of vegetables and thus early income to the growers/farmers.


International collaboration for funding and promotion of the aforesaid technologies is sought from the following funding agencies to help in poverty alleviation programme:



EC-FAO Partnership Programme (Projct - GCP / INT / 679/EC)

Data collection for sustainable forest management in ACP countries, Asia and the Caribbean

IUCN/SSC Medicinal Plant Specialist Group (MPSG), Ontario, Canada

Medicinal plant conservation and rational, sustainable use.

Overseas Development Institute (ODI), UK

To inspare and inform policies, leading to poverty reduction.

Trade Records Analysis of Flora and Fauna in Commerce (TRAFFIC), Cambridge, UK

Marketing of NWFPs including medicinal plants.

Forest Research Institute Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Processing and utilization of forest resources, bio-technology, forest economics, investment oppurtunities, information technologies and commercialization of forestry R&D.

Forest Products Division, Forestry Department, FAO

To develop practical inventory guidelines for resources providing NWFPs to achieve sustainable forest management.

Training Center for Tropical Resources and Ecosystem Sustainability (TREES), University of Philippines Los Baños, College of Forestry and Natural Resources, Laguna, Philippines.

Participatory approaches in forestry and natural resources development.

[6] Tropical Forest Research Institute, Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, India; E-mail:[email protected]
[7] Tropical Forest Research Institute, Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, India; E-mail:[email protected]

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