Trees for Tribals, Nimbhora (Western India).
Western India: Village Nimbhora, Tehsil Kalamb, District Yavatmal, Maharashtra.
This project involves the plantation of 25,000 trees on approximately 65 acres of land owned by the local self-government body or Gram Panchayat in village Nimbhora.
The area is the ancestral home of the Kolam tribe. The Kolam believe that their race has originated from the Pandavas of the Mahabharata (source: S G Deogaonkar and Leena Deogaonkar-Baxi, (2003), The Kolam Tribals). The Kolams are an agrarian community, economically dependent on the seasonal produce of their land.
The forest serves as an additional source of sustenance for them. They collect various fruits from the forest; use bamboo to construct their houses; gather firewood for cooking and to keep warm in winters; use grass as fodder, as well as for making brooms and mats; collect leaves for leaf plates (utensils) etc.
This project in Nimbhora will benefit the tribals by providing them employment opportunities in the nursery stage, and during the planting and the harvesting activities. Of the 25,000 tree plantings in this organic-horticulture project, fruit trees account for about 28%, 12% are local species like Peepal, Vad and about 60% are Moringa or the Drumstick tree, a fast-growing, drought-resistant local species. The leaves and pods of the Moringa tree are used for food and the seeds provide oil. The press cake left over after extracting seed oil can be utilized as a fertilizer and as a flocculent for water clarification.
Moringa is excellent for improving the nutrition of poor communities. The protein content of leaves is high, and it is a rich source of nutrients including vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and potassium. Pod yields in India are reported at 230 pods or 19 kg pods/tree/ year. [source: Radovich, T. (2009). Farm and Forestry Production and Marketing Profile for Moringa (moringa oleifera)]
The Gram Panchayat expects to be able to harvest and sell the drumstick crop and use the proceeds for augmenting water supply and for other pressing needs of the local population. Additionally, this region faces a chronic drought situation and planting trees here will increase the water catchment in the soil. The species for planting are specially selected based on the biodiversity of the region as well as on their ability to thrive with minimal water supply. The project will also benefit from two bore-wells in case of any contingencies.
The tree species planted here include Drumstick (Moringa oleifera), Mango (Mangifera indica), Wad (Ficus benghalensis), Peepal (Ficus religiosa), Amla (Phyllanthus emblica), Jamun (Syzygium cumini).
This forest of 25,000 trees will also support the endemic wildlife of the region.