“Agroforestry should be brought under the agriculture ministry and treated as full-scale cultivation just like how farmers grow crops on their farmland. Only when growing timber trees on agricultural land is looked at as a means of survival and its economic benefit recognised will exploitation of forests stop,” he said, adding that there should be a simplified and uniform timber policy across the country to help growers and timber merchants to grow and sell the produce in any state of their choice.
He was speaking at an event ‘Cauvery Calling: Forest to Farm — The Way Forward’, organised by the foundation on the occasion of the International Day of Forests in Bengaluru.
Isha Outreach’s Cauvery Calling campaign launched in 2019 is estimated to enable 5.2 million farmers to plant 2.42 billion trees on their farmland along the river Cauvery basin in a span of 12 years.
“India imports a large quantity of timber despite having such a huge land mass. It is time we grew our own timber. In future, timber should not come from the forest, but from the farm land,” Sadhguru said.
To a query about the funds raised and the progress achieved in the Cauvery Calling campaign, the Isha Foundation chief said contributions for the campaign have come from 650,000 people from 166 countries and receipts are audited.
The central and the state governments too have pitched in to support the tree-planting project by announcing subsidies to farmers and partially bringing it under MGNREGA.
“Our mission is to create a huge demand for saplings among the farming community,” the spiritual leader said.
Union minister for environment and ecology Prakash Javadekar, who was present at the event, briefed the gathering about the government’s project to map the forests using Lidar survey technology.
“We have selected one forest in every state this year to map the forest and valleys using drone technology with an accuracy of 10 cm. This will help us take focused decisions on afforestation for effective fodder and water augmentation,” he said.