Surajlal: Lac cultivation to livelihood

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Surajlal: Lac cultivation to livelihood

Surajlal Chandu Thakare is a 70-year-old farmer from village Chikhali, block Tirora, District Gondia, Maharashtra. Over the years, his wisdom in the area of agriculture has only grown. His 4-acre of agricultural land cultivates paddy, coarse cereals, etc. and is surrounded with 40 Palas (Butea Monosperma) trees. He did nurture the Palas trees, not truly knowing how beneficial it can be in gaining alternate income.

Adani Foundation found Lac cultivation to be gradually shrinking despite abundant availability of naturally growing Palas trees. In a bid to promote alternate livelihood source, they introduced Lac cultivation to farmers. Lac insects thrive on Palas trees(host trees), suck the plant sap and grow, all the while secreting Lac resins from their bodies. Producing Lac also has high economic value and demand in the market, majorly for making Lac ornaments.

Lac cultivation workshops were organised, to spread awareness among farmers who have Palas trees in their farms. Amongst the many who attended was Surajlal, who started scientific lac cultivation on available Palas trees. In the first year (2018), Surajalal inoculated 15 trees with 5 Lac seeds on each, in June. He followed all the improved techniques and steps taught to him for harvesting Lac. After six months, he found amorphous Lac growth. And this was just the beginning.

After 6-7 months, for harvesting the Lac from 35 trees, he employed three wage labourers. Despite some challenges and setbacks, he produced 100 kg of Lac from 35 trees and sold it in a major Lac market of Gondia, at a rate of Rs. 170/kg. Thus, with a minimum investment of Rs. 6,000-7,000, he earned Rs. 10,000/-.

Over the years, his earning from Lac cultivation has increased tremendously. He is so motivated that he now wants to plant more Lac host trees. His actions and words have encouraged other farmers in neighbouring villages to adopt Lac cultivation to earn income from trees readily available in their farms.