Federation of Indian Plywood & Panel Industry (FIPPI) sent a presentation to the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India “Small Policy Shift – Big National Change”, to present details and take his guidance on how the industry can support the ambition for an Atmanirbhar Bharat. In a letter written by the federation Mr Sajjan Bhajanka, President, FIPPI requested for the intervention in affecting a policy change with potential for immense national impact through self-sufficiency in production of agro-forestry wood & development of wood based industry in India.
FIPPI draw attention to the following policy levers, which can pave the way for wood based industries to achieve their full growth potential. Presently, wood produced from farmlands are treated as forest produce requiring regulatory clearances and discouraging farmers from growing trees. They proposed shifting agro-forestry from forest to agriculture sector and thereby providing all the economic benefits of agriculture to the farmers engaged in agro forestry.
They also proposed that the removal of licensing requirement for wood-based units including Veneer Mills, Saw Mills, Plywood Factories, Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) Units, Particle Board Units, Pulp and Paper Units, Furniture Industry and all other industries that primarily use ‘farm wood’ and its produce as raw materials. This will enable local producers and other users of farm wood to build sustainable businesses at the plantation sites and generate employment and livelihood opportunities for farmers.
The above interventions are likely to have multi-pronged economic and ecological benefits: Such as rural job creation, as there is potential of 2-2.5 million+ new jobs in rural India and substantive impact on farmer incomes. GDP growth & import substitution, as there is full value chain potential of $150 billion+ and balance of trade improvement as timber imports are substituted by domestic production, and Climate and sustainability impact, as 2 Bn+ mt of carbon sequestration potential by 2050 from the increase in tree cover and supply of raw material for cluster level biomass / wood-based power plants.
Mr Sajjan Bhajanka also requested to meet in person to discuss the matter. He said in the letter that having a fresh look at the commercial timber plantations in agro-forestry sector by the Indian Government can enhance self-reliance in timber production in the country. India has the advantage of scale, second largest arable land resource in the world that can be an asset in achieving self-reliance in timber. However, as India’s real estate and furniture demand booms, reliance on timber imports is likely as India looks to meet its composite panel requirements.
He suggested that a 5 percent shift of agriculture area from cash crops to timber plantations through incentives would result in the enhancing farmer’s incomes, ensuring sustained supply to the wood-based industries and significantly increase in rural employment generation, thus arresting the rural Indian brain drain and strengthening the country’s green cover and ecology.