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Resin institute to ink pact with Kenya cradle

Ranchi, Nov. 2: Having established itself as a force to reckon with in the sector of research in agro-forestry in the country, Indian Institute of Natural Resins and Gums is all set to jump shores.

It is now planning to collaborate with the International Centre for Research in Agro-forestry in Kenya. Talks for the proposed collaboration is over and is set to come through after completion of the formalities.

Recently, a south Asia representative of the Kenyan centre, V.P. Singh, visited the Namkum institute for the final phase of the talks.

The Indian centre that has been extensively working in the agro-forestry sector to develop trees for the production of lac, had invited the international body to explore possibilities of a bilateral exchange of resources and ideas.

The director of the Namkum centre, Bangali Baboo, said his institute’s success is proven by the booming, Rs 50-crore lac industry.

But, he added that there is “greater room” for further change.

“The approach to agro-forestry, when compared to Africa is different here. Our approach is still largely timber-based and needs to be redefined,” Baboo said.

Trough the collaboration, the Indian centre is seeking to shift focus on different business ideas that do not involve timber.

As a senior scientist of the Indian centre explained, the collaboration will open up roads for barter of local and foreign trees. The trees would be studied to understand how they could augment forest produce. “After all agro-forestry is more than just timber and firewood,” the scientist said.

“We will have to study the climate, topography and soil condition in Kenya and compare it with our conditions. Trees of Indian origin will be taken there, while some of their trees will be planted here. Salai Guggal, Guggal, Gum Karaya, and Babool are rich in resin and also have medicinal uses. Similar trees in Africa will be studied and possibilities of extracting important components from them will have to be explored,” he added.

“The expertise of international scientists coupled with our own field experience will prove to be a shot in the arm for the agro industry here,” Baboo said, adding: “Discussions with Singh on his visit earlier this month was productive. We are looking forward to the programme.”

“I am hopeful that the collaboration would prove its merits in a couple of years. There cannot be overnight change, more so when agro-forestry is not taken seriously by the concerned authorities here. However, with persistent labour, there is the scope for development,” Baboo said.

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