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Tamil Nadu launches drive to plant more palmyra trees

Tamil Nadu with a view to encourage palmyra palm tree plantation is setting up a research station (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@IFS_Vignesh)

The development of palmyra tree plantation is all set to get a boost with Tamil Nadu Government deciding to establish a palmyra research station at Killikulam Agricultural College and Research Institute in Thoothukudi district. Palmyra tree which is the official tree of the State has been part of Tamil culture since ancient times and highly respected.

The tree has several uses. It is used by the people for making umbrellas, fans, baskets, mats, and hats and also placed on the roof while the wood is utilised to make beds, chairs, tables, cabinets and other furniture. Its fruit is eaten and used to make sweets while its syrup is used to make toddy and jaggery.

The station which will be built at a cost of Rs.15 crore will create new dwarf palmyra varieties as the height of the normal trees makes it difficult for people to climb, thereby limiting its usage to the full. Besides, the facility will also deal with issues concerning palmyra tree plantation, its nutrition and disease management.

The station will have a laboratory for checking quality of value-added products made from the palmyra like palmyra jaggery and palm candy. It will also conduct research on post-harvest technology and value-addition technology.

Aiming to increase plantation of this tree, the Government through the Palmyra Development Mission has in the last two years distributed 20 lakh palmyra seed nuts and one lakh palmyra saplings. Apart from this, 510 machines have been provided at 124 palmyra value addition centres across the State. Going further, the Agriculture Department will distribute 10 lakh palmyra seed nuts to farmers while non-governmental organisations will be asked to plant them along the river banks.

To make climbing of the tree easier for the planters, the Government has decided to provide a reward of Rs.1 lakh to the inventors who make such machines.

To facilitate value addition of palmyra products and handicrafts made from different parts of the tree, a skill development training programme will be launched at a cost of Rs.2 crore. The skilling programme will focus in particular on women and marginal farmers to enable them get employment and also increase their income. Government will also explore the possibility of exporting products made from the tree and also its produce.