Why are wood bazaars illicit?
Agroforestry could be a good option to produce raw materials for forest-based industries such as pharmaceuticals, paper and furniture. Besides weaning away pressure from forests, it can provide additional income to farmers and ensure subsistence. However, after years of promotion by the government, agroforestry in India has not lived up to expectations of policy-makers. It caters mainly to the wood market (including the illicit ones) rather than wood-based industries.
Agroforestry is a land use system where trees and/or shrubs are combined with agricultural plants on the same farm. In India, it is usually practiced by medium farmers, who tend to optimise their land use. But the practice does not make much economic sense to a large majority. Small agriculturists are constrained by worries of subsistence, while the larger ones opt for long-term crops such as sugarcane.
And when it's practiced The government's agroforestry promotion programmes have, in fact, been quite lackadaisical. Corruption in government departments has increased problems for planters. It has also resulted in distribution of poor quality plants, poor information systems and restricted technical support for farmers. Local grain markets compound matters by unnecessarily taxing planters for marketing forest products. The police has worsened the situation by extracting bribes from farmers at virtually every check post. Besides, the insurance sector has been quite selective in supporting planters. All this has led to a steady fall in wood prices over the last decade. It is not surprising that farmers are losing interest in agroforestry.
Today, an illicit market in wood thrives in many parts of the country, particularly North India. Brick-kilns in Haryana, khandsari (sugar) units in western Uttar Pradesh (up) and the toy industry in eastern up make their purchases from this market. This illegal market