After many months spent establishing a successful demonstration plot and nursery, the Himalayan Institute has finally begun to put Pongamia pinnata tree seedlings into the hands of Tibetan farmers. Over the past two weeks, 3,000 ready-to-plant seedlings were distributed in 12 villages.
In general, the biggest obstacle to success in tree plantation projects is getting people motivated enough to maintain the trees over a long period of time. In the Energy Farming Pongamia pinnata project, there is a strong built-in incentive to care for the trees because it is the fruit that is most valuable, as compared with growing trees for timber or firewood.
Additionally, there is continued support for the communities involved. Each Tibetan refugee settlement in India is organized into smaller community structures called camps. It is at the camp level that the Himalayan Institute’s Energy Farming technicians have been working to distribute Pongamia pinnata seedlings. The whole community has to be on board for the Himalayan Institute to begin working with them. Seedlings are distributed through these camps, rather than to individual farmers, so that there is an established structure in place for help and accountability with raising the trees. The Himalayan Institute Energy Farming team of specialists communicates with the leaders of the camps and is available to step in and assist with specific problems that may arise.
There has been overwhelming interest in the Pongamia pinnata seedlings. The first 3,000 seedlings were all distributed immediately upon being grafted. Another 20,000 seedlings are being nursed and will be passed out among the participating camps as soon as they are ready for planting.