| A man collects resin from a sal tree. Telegraph picture |
Borjhar, Aug. 3: A dwindling sal tree count brought about by largescale deforestation in the southern parts of Kamrup district is taking a toll on the once-flourishing resin trade.
Sources said there has been a loss of over 70 per cent of sal trees in some forest villages of the district over the past decade.
Resin is a sticky substance collected from certain trees such as sal (shorearobusta) and dhuna (canariumresiniferum). A cut is made in the tree trunk from which the sticky substance is collected. The dried and hardened form of the substance is locally called dhuna, which is burnt to keep mosquitoes at bay.
Despite a growing demand for the substance at a time when Japanese encephalitis has taken a dangerous turn in the state, claiming over 100 lives so far, the resin traders are unable to meet the requirements of their clients.
Residents of a host of forest villages such as Rajapara, Ranikhamar, Kathalguri and Jaipur in the district collect resin primarily from the trunks of mature sal trees before drying them.
“As far as sal resin trapping is concerned, we used to harvest the substance in huge quantities. But now it has dwindled and we are incurring losses. So much so that many collectors have taken up alternative means of livelihood,” Maheshwar Rabha, a resin collector, said.
Maniram Rabha, however, has not taken up any alternative trade.
“I am solely dependent on selling resin. So the dearth of sal trees is taking a toll on our income,” he said.
Forest dwellers are unanimous in saying that resin trapped from sal trees, known as sal dhuna, is the best mosquito deterrent. Bark being one of the vital organs of a tree, the resin collectors extract the substance without causing any harm to the tree species. “Survival of the tree matters more,” a resin collector said.
There was a time when buyers used to flock to these villages to buy dhuna.
“We need not go to the market. Buyers used to flock to our village to purchase the dried substance. A kilogram costs Rs 150,” Jadab Kachari, a resident of Rajapara, said.
Sources in the Kamrup Chambers of Commerce said the “resin is not categorised before selling”.
Scientists said apart from sal and dhuna trees, resin is tapped from pine trees also. The yield of resin from dhuna tree is more than sal.
Rita Choudhury, a scientist of Guwahati silviculture division, said the resin of canariumresiniforum (dhuna) is the best to keep mosquitoes at bay.
“It is scientifically established that resin of this tree can ward off mosquitoes effectively. The smoke that emanates from the substance when burned is not harmful to humans,” Choudhury said.