The patient task of nurturing a tree is set to get some tech help as the Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding (IFGTB) is working on an interactive digital platform bringing together various stakeholders in tree farming.
From tree growers, to nursery owners, wood-based industrialists, state forest departments and research institutions, the platform will help connect all of them.
It is mainly meant to help tree growers find suitable tree varieties or clones, quality planting material, solutions for diseases or pests attacking their trees and finally buyers for their trees.
IFGTB director C Kunhikannan said, “We are coming up with a digital interactive portal that will include a website, a mobile application available for both android and iOS phones and a web portal. Both the app and website will allow tree growers and farmers to post their queries or post a picture of sites for finding suitable trees, or insect on their trees, leaves or branches, wanting to know what it is, if its dangerous and how should it be contained,” he said.
Once the query is up, the research outreach from IFGTB can give their diagnosis and suggest a solution.
Besides getting solutions for problems, tree growers can mention their demand for quality planting material, which nurseries can address, and availability of wood that industries can pitch for and express their interest to purchase.
“Ease of planting, growing, maintaining and later marketing of trees is crucial to get youth into tree farming. For this, they need easy access to information, and that is what we are trying to provide,” said project in charge and head of extension activities at IFGTB, Rajesh Gopalan.
“Besides replying to farmers’ queries, the institute will also provide regular weather updates, prevailing market price of wood and timber, department schemes and subsidies and information about new clones,” he said.
The platform is expected to be operational from October.
The IFGTB organises periodic interactions with farmers through tree growers’ mela, different training sessions and stakeholder meetings, but this platform takes the exercise digital so that it can reach more farmers. It will also answer queries.
Last week, the institute had conducted a stakeholders’ meeting to elicit feedback on the prototype of the portal and get their inputs and suggestions on the design, information and ease of use.
“We will keep getting feedback and making changes, before the project completion” said the director.