KATHMANDU, Nov 16: In a bid to implement community income generation scheme for rural households, the Department of Forest (DoF) has proposed employing 30,000 households from 3,000 community forests (CFs) for medicinal herb plantation.
The DoF plan is simple. It will pick five CFs from each of the 600 range posts. Then, 10 households from each CF will be given the job to plant a minimum of 1,000 medicinal herbs. In this way, five CFs will plant 5,000 medicinal herbs. As per the plan, the family members will be employed for 150 days and each person will earn up to Rs 20,000 for working for that duration. There are 30 to 40 CFs in each range post in the country.
Plan to cover five CFs from each of 600 range posts and 10 households from each CF
One household to plant 1,000 medicinal plants
One person to get job for 150 days a year at Rs 20,000 remuneration
Plan to include only those who do not hold any office of benefit
Rs 500 initial support sought from WB
"This is a pilot project and if we are successful in the first phase, we will expand the project to incorporate more community forests," Minister for Forest and Soil Conservation Deepak Bohara said.
The Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation (MoFSC) has sought World Bank assistance to implement the project. For implementing the first phase of the program, the ministry has sought for Rs 500 million from the monetary agency. The ministry targets to incorporate at least 100,000 families into the plan in three years. The ministry has planned to employ only those who do not hold any office of benefit in the plan.
DoF has proposed plantation of short-term (3 month to a year) crops for the purpose. In the first phase, three medicinal plants, namely white and black musli, menthe (mint) and asparagus, have been proposed. While musli and menthe are popular medicinal herbs, the root of asparagus is used in producing herbal medicines. Asparagus farming takes two to 2.5 years time.
"This is a very simple, but useful plan," claimed deputy director of DoF Harihar Sigdel, adding, "The scheme will be implemented in the ground area of the community forests and the trees in higher ground will not be touched at all."
Sigdel, however, added that there are "resource crunch" as the cost of nursery itself will be high. The DoF will need 30 million saplings a year (1000 seeds x 30,000). By this logic, the DoF requires almost Rs 120 million for nursery cost. DoF currently has only Rs 20 million in its coffer.
The proposal will have to be approved by the National Planning Commission. The ministry will send to the commission it for final approval after consultation with the Ministry of Finance and commitment from the World Bank.