Tree Cultivation on Private Land (TCPL)


(1) Scope for Tree Cultivation on Private Land

The scope for Tree Cultivation on Private Land (TCPL) is determined by availability of fallow land in general and its availability with focus on small and marginal farmers.


Availability of fallow land

According to the Land Use Statistics, Department of Economics and Statistics, Government of Tamil Nadu a total of around 2.5 million ha (19% of total geographical area) is categorized as one or other category of fallow. The land use pattern of the state has undergone rapid structural changes over the period of last thirty years. For the state as a whole, comparison of the land use data over past 30 years indicates that area under ‘other fallow’ category has increased substantially and it still shows an increasing trend. On the contrary the ‘net sown area’ and permanent pastures show a declining trend. This indicates that farmers are shifting to other economic activities while preferring to leave more and more land fallow.

Given that TCPL targets about 140,000 ha – 150,000 ha of fallow land, which is 5-6% of the total fallow land available and 8-10% of the ‘other fallow’, there seems to be sufficient land available for implementation of TCPL. However, one has to make a safe assumption that only a portion of such land would be available and out of the land that could be suitable and available for plantation, there would be competing demands from other departments (Agriculture, Horticulture) for the same category of land to implement their schemes.

According to the Land Use Statistics, Department of Economics and Statistics, Government of Tamil Nadu a total of around 2.5 million ha (19% of total geographical area) is categorized as one or other category of fallow. The land use pattern of the state has undergone rapid structural changes over the period of last thirty years. For the state as a whole, comparison of the land use data over past 30 years indicates that area under ‘other fallow’ category has increased substantially and it still shows an increasing trend. On the contrary the ‘net sown area’ and permanent pastures show a declining trend. This indicates that farmers are shifting to other economic activities while preferring to leave more and more land fallow.


Availability of land with small and marginal farmers

Agricultural census data for the year 1995-96 indicates that there were about 8 million operational holders under different categories covering close to 7.3 million ha. of agricultural land. The land ownership is quite skewed. The small and marginal farmers constitute 89.7% of the total farmers in the state but own only about 54% of the total agricultural area. The other category of farmers constitute less than 11% of the total farmers but own about 46% of the total area.

The average size of land holding has also been declining over the years. The average size of holding which was 1.25 ha in 1976-77 declined to 0.91 ha in 1995-96. Declining holding could also be responsible for sharp increase in the fallow land, as the small holding makes agriculture non-remunerative and the farmer starts looking for other livelihood options. Per capita land holding could also be a major factor in adoption of TCPL.


(2) Objectives of TCPL

The proposed objectives of the TCPL programme are as follows:

a) To contribute to the national goal of bringing 33% of the geographical area under forest and tree cover by increasing the tree cover in the villages

b) To increase the supply of wood and non-wood products from private land for industrial as well as household consumption contributing to reduction of pressure on forest land

c) To establish tree-based farming system as a sustainable and viable economic enterprise for farmers

d) To strengthen technical capabilities of the farmer to create farm plantations


(3) Target Area and Farmers

The TCPL sub-component is proposed to be implemented in about 4,000 - 5,000 villages spread over 32 districts in the state. The extent of district wise coverage would vary according to availability of fallow land in the district. The villages would be selected based on multiple criteria such as availability of fallow land, interest of farmers etc.

Private fallow land and farm bunds covering a notional area between 140,000 ha to 150,000 ha would be planted with a variety of tree species. About 3,000 ha of proposed area would be covered under short-rotation tree crop – mainly Casuarina. The rest would be covered with medium and long rotation crops.

Although the component would target all categories of fallow land, it would focus on ‘other fallow’ category of land for creating compact block plantations. The ‘current fallow’ category of land would be targeted mainly for farm boundary plantations and inter-cropping (agro-forestry) models.

All categories of farmers are proposed to be covered under TCPL. Small and marginal farmers would be given priority in selection as beneficiaries.


(4) Approach & Strategies

Farm Forestry programmes in India and Tamil Nadu have suffered primarily due to absence of a comprehensive strategy for promoting tree cultivation on private lands. The main strategies adopted under public programmes on farm forestry have been to supply tree seedlings at free of cost or at subsidized cost; provision of survival incentives and creation of extension infrastructure. However, experience has proved that supply of seedlings and incentives alone are not effective. Some of the important issues observed in relation to past farm forestry programmes are:

  • Low survival of seedlings
  • Low density of trees per unit of farm land
  • Low productivity of farm forestry plantations
  • Low adoption of farm forestry by small and marginal farmers
  • Low success in semi-arid regions

There are increasing opportunities for farm forestry as more and more private fallow land becomes available as farmers shift from agriculture to other livelihood options influenced by host of reasons – availability of more remunerative livelihood options; shortage of labour for farm work; declining return from agriculture due to increased input costs; declining size of land holding and returns from agriculture; higher risks associated with agricultural cash crops etc. Other opportunities include rising prices of timber and wood fueled by growing demand-supply gap due to growing economy.

  1. review of best practices related to farm forestry;
  2. TCPL being a stand-alone activity in most of the project villages;
  3. focus on giving preference to small and marginal farmers under TCPL and
  4. conformity with the project goal of bio-diversity conservation.

The main elements of the strategy for TCPL are:

  1. Financial support and incentives for creation and maintenance of plantations
  2. Technical support in the form of quality planting stock and planting by forest department.
  3. Beneficiary contribution and participation -- involvement of beneficiaries in planning, implementation and monitoring.
  4. Cluster approach to village selection for coverage under TCPL.
  5. Enlarged basket of species and planting models to suit the needs of different socio-economic, farming and agro-climatic conditions.
  6. Informed choice of species and planting models by farmers.
  7. Transfer of skills to (women) farmers for nursery and planting operations.
  8. Capacity building of farmers for proper management of plantations.
  9. Robust monitoring system

(5) Overall TCPL Process

The proposed TCPL process is based on principles of good governance – participation, transparency and accountability – as well as keeping in mind the practicality and ease of project implementation and management.

The main stages of the process are:

2.1.1 Village Cluster Selection and Rapid Appraisal
2.1.2 Engaging NGOs/Resource organizations
2.1.3 Entry Level Activity
2.1.4 Preparation of Microplan for TCPL
2.1.5 Microplan Implementation
2.1.6 Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E)

2.1.1 Village Cluster Selection and Rapid Appraisal

Proposed Activities

2.1.1.1 Multi-criteria based screening of villages including preparation of guidelines and orientation of the staff
2.1.1.2 Rapid Appraisal of potential villages including selection and orientation

Multi-Criteria Selection System for Cluster Village Selection

Given the focus and characteristics of TCPL, proper village selection is critical for success. Multi-Criteria Selection System (MCSS) for Cluster village selection is proposed. Multiple criteria should be used for the initial screening of villages for TCPL related intervention.

Criteria identification can be based on:

  • direct relevance to the project’s intervention models and focus beneficiaries;
  • quantifiable from available secondary data either directly or through proxy indicators;
  • should not take too long to collect or analyze

The cluster village selection would be a two stage process – 1) Screening of all villages based on secondary data to prepare the list of potential villages; and 2) Rapid Appraisal of short-listed villages to arrive at a final list of villages for TCPL.

A cluster approach for targeting villages is suggested for TCPL, with each cluster comprising of 4-6 villages (on an average five villages).

Clustering of villages will have the following benefits:

  1. Ease of project logistics (extension, training, input supply, monitoring etc.);
  2. Ease of information sharing between villages leading to demonstration and spread effect;
  3. Better visibility of TCPL interventions
  4. Easier procurement by industries / joint marketing of farm forestry products by farmers especially small and marginal farmers

Rapid Appraisal and Final Selection of TCPL Villages

Rapid Appraisal (RA) process is designed to confirm and update the data collected from secondary sources, assess the scope for different plantation models and confirm the interest of the farmers in TCPL.


2.1.2 Entry level Activity

Local NGOs would be identified and engaged in each district on cluster basis to facilitate the process related to village entry; FIG formation; microplanning; participatory monitoring and evaluation; capacity building and training; and facilitating farmer institutions. Organizations such as Society for Social Forestry Research and Development (SSFRD) could play an important advisory role in the process given their understanding and experience of tree husbandry practices, especially agro-forestry, in areas outside forest.


Proposed Activities

2.1.3.1 Awareness programmes on scope, purpose and protocols of TCPL including facilitation of FIG

Village Entry & Awareness Generation on TCPL

The VE process would serve the purpose of:

  • Introducing the project/field staff to the village;
  • Publication of the TCPL programme and clarifying various aspects of TCPL, including the main conditions, process, key procedures and time-frame;
  • Starting the process of creating a positive attitude of the villagers for tree plantations, in general and TCPL in particular – clearing misconceptions and explaining advantages;
  • Reconfirming availability of sufficient fallow land for planting

Facilitation of Farmer Interest Groups (FIG)

Following the VE process, a list of interested farmers and SHGs would be prepared. This could be done either in small group meetings or through household visits. The method for preparing the list would be left to the resource organization and FMU staff.

In case of TCPL, FIGs would start as an informal group of farmers who are interested in tree plantation on their private land. It is expected that the FIG forums, would evolve into more formal farmer institutions in due course -- which, in turn, could play pivotal role in sustaining, strengthening and extending the programme. The project would create enabling conditions to facilitate such an evolution.


2.1.4 Preparation of Micro-plan for TCPL

Proposed Activities

2.1.4.1 Guidelines on Micro-planning for TCPL
2.1.4.2 Participatory Assessment & Planning including Microplan approval

Conditions for Selection of Farmer and Land for TCPL

During micro-planning process, a clear understanding on criteria to be used for selection of farmers, land and/or species would facilitate quick decision and reduce the possibility of conflict over who is covered first under the programme.

The proposed criteria can be modified based on experience and more criteria can be added without diluting the focus on small and marginal farmers or increasing the possibility of diversion of land from agriculture.

Under TCPL, it is proposed to have a proportionate mix of both the models with short rotation crop (Casuarina) constituting a maximum of 30% of the seedlings (up to 50% in case of small and marginal farmers) and a minimum of 70% in case of medium and long rotation crops (a minimum of 50% in case of small and large farmers) within the overall planting target.

Three planting designs would be followed– compact block planting; inter-crop planting and farm boundary planting. Compact block planting to be done only more than one year old fallow land, inter-crop plantations can be taken up on ‘current fallow’ land as well. Land use status is immaterial for farm boundary plantations.

Casuarina plantation would be limited to 30% of the total seedlings proposed to be planted). Miscellaneous species and timber would constitute the rest 70%. The total target under TCPL would be limited to 10 crores seedlings of which a maximum of 3 crores would be constituted by casuarinas and 7 crores by other miscellaneous and timber species. Proportionately, an area of 3000 ha would be covered under casuarinas (@ 10,000/ ha) and 140,000 ha under timber and other miscellaneous species (@ 500/ ha). The total target under TCPL under two types of planting would govern the total coverage.


2.1.5 Micro-plan Implementation

Proposed Activities

2.1.5.1 Planting operations
2.1.5.2 On-site Training of FIG & SHG members related to maintenance & management

The implementation of microplans would be according to AP and would involve following tasks:

  • On-site Training of farmers & SHG members on nursery, planting and maintenance techniques; on agro-forestry models, particularly different suitable agricultural crops for inter-cropping.
  • Procuring tall & older seedlings (for MPTs, fruit trees, bamboo) and clonal seedlings from Permanent and/or Hi-tech nurseries
  • Plantation by forest department in farms.

Only quality seedlings raised from the seeds obtained from the ‘Seed stands’. ‘Seed Production Areas’, ‘Seed Orchards’ and ‘Plus trees’, ‘proven clones’ would be supplied to the farmers.


2.1.6 Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E)

Proposed Activities

2.1.6.1 Monitoring & Evaluation including survival survey
2.1.6.2 Distribution of survival incentives

Given the fact that farm forestry programmes in the past have also suffered due to lack of effective monitoring, it is proposed to adopt a robust monitoring and evaluation system for TCPL.

Based on monitoring exercise carried out by, the survival incentives to be distributed to each farmer would be determined.