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Village reaps lac harvest

Ranchi, Nov. 16: Nearly 100 villagers of Kudada, a nondescript hamlet in East Singhbhum, have set the trend to earn a steady living by taking up lac cultivation.

What began as an experiment last year with support from the Dhalbhum forest division has started showing results, with the villagers collectively producing around 15 quintals of lac that will fetch them handsome profits.

A kilogram of lac (obtained from palash tree) fetches a minimum of Rs 200 in the market, while the price doubles in case the host tree happens to be kusum.

“It’s great news that lac production has finally kicked on in the region,” said Sanjeev Kumar, conservator (afforestation circle) of Singhbhum division. Although Kumar is not directly involved any more, as a divisional forest officer (DFO), he had spearheaded the introduction of lac cultivation here last year.

Lac is a natural resin secreted by a species of insect. Until a couple of years ago, Jharkhand was the highest lac producing state in the country, thanks to the abundance of host trees such as palash, kusum and ber. However, Chhattisgarh has now replace Jharkhand at the top of the table.

According to Kumar, the returns are vast.

“For example, half kg of brood lac (seed) can yield a minimum of 5kg. For 100 trees, including insecticides, the investment is Rs 2,500. For production of 2,500kg, only Rs 2,500 is incurred, whereas the returns are in lakhs,” he said.

He added the forest department was aiming to cover in the whole of Singhbhum this year. “We are aiming to create around 2,500 self-help groups in the region to train and encourage them to cultivate lac. I have already asked all the three DFOs under me to prepare a plan in this regard.”