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Now, outsourcing forest cultivation

Sunday 21 August 2005, by VIJAPURKAR*Mahesh

Indian farmers to raise trees to help meet Kyoto Protocol provisions

MUMBAI: About 5,000 farmers in Maharashtra will raise trees to help developed countries meet the objective of reducing greenhouse gases emissions under the provisions of the Kyoto Protocol, which came into effect in February. In a nutshell, the developed countries — where the cost of raising plantation is high — will outsource forest cultivation to Indian farmers, who will be paid for carbon abatement by the trees. The quantity of carbon abatement will be measured by officials of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Control.

The State farmers, who were brought together by Friends of Carbon, a Pune-based NGO, are in the process of registering themselves as a society. They expect to sell their carbon abatement credits through the international commodities market. The first sale "could be by 2007," said Shekhar Kadam of FoC. The trees should be at least three years old and raised after 1990.

By sequestering such farm-based and matured forests, a long-term storage of carbon in living and dead vegetation is possible. This would offset the carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere by activities that generate greenhouse gases. And when plantations are outsourced, the developed world needs to pay much less. According to FoC, India’s potential is huge.

A recent World Bank carbon market intelligence study shows that the carbon finance market is expanding steadily. In 2004, 107 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents were exchanged against 78 million tonnes in 2003. The prices fluctuate. In 2003, they ranged between $2 to $12 per tonne of carbon sequestered. Deals involving a minimum of $1 million are common.

The FoC’s logic: "The basic concept behind carbon trading is that it costs much more to raise plantations in developed countries such as Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. For the cost of raising trees on a hectare in these countries, 100 hectares can be brought under tree cover in India, Sri Lanka and other developing countries," where farmers are also looking for better income.

The FoC is already moving among farmers in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.

"We need more people all over India and become viable to attract the involvement of the international brokers to deal in the commodities market," Mr. Kadam told The Hindu.

"One million farmers, each committing a minimum of one hectare, is a nice, tangible figure."

See online : The Hindu

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