Andhra Paper’s initiative has grown to nearly 646,300 acres and now provides a means of economic survival for many rural farmers and their communities. As of the end of 2019, nearly 1.8 billion saplings have been planted.
In the early 1980s, Andhra Paper recognized that the pulp and paper industry would face challenges in the sourcing of fibrous raw materials due to the Forest Conservation Act and the Land Ceiling Act, which restricted the usage of available land for captive plantations. Consequently, Andhra Paper embarked on an ambitious plan to generate the raw material by coordinating with farmers to utilize their barren marginal and degraded lands.
This pioneering step marked the commencement of the farm forestry plantation activities, and was a turning point in the history of the company. Started in 1989, the social forestry initiative gradually spread to Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, East Godavari, West Godavari, Krishna, Guntur, Prakasam and Nellore districts of Andhra Pradesh. The program provides a means of survival for the small farmers, and improves the socio-economic status of their communities. In return, Andhra Paper has achieved total self-sufficiency in the sourcing of raw material.
To date, around 1791 million seedlings of fast-growing Subabul, Casaurina and Eucalyptus have been distributed to cover 2,58,519 hectares of coastal land, and aided more than 71,000 beneficiaries. The beneficiaries are provided planting material at extremely subsidized rates. The scheme has been widely accepted and adopted by the rural people and is now held as the benchmark in plantation activities.
Andhra Paper is developing high yielding, genetically superior clones of Casuarina to maximize plantation productivity and revenue generation for the farmers. The ‘wastelands’ of yore have become the means to employment and asset creation for the farmers. The perception of paper mills as destroyers of natural resources has been struck down. Instead, they are leading development efforts with the goal of improving forest and ecological systems. The mills follow the principle of planting two trees for each tree felled.
The productivity of degraded lands has improved tremendously since the inception of the social farm forestry program, and soil erosion has been controlled. There has also been an observable improvement in moisture conservation.
Research and Development
Our research and development projects have helped in ensuring higher survival percentage of saplings, higher productivity per unit area and reduction in the rotation cycle. In order to be environmentally friendly, we have eliminated the traditional practices of poly bag nursery techniques, and other low cost planting techniques have been introduced. Andhra Paper have also introduced high yielding, disease resistant Casuarina clonal saplings, which ensures additional silvicultural gains for the farmers. The clonal research activities have been extended to the mill catchment areas of Andhra Pradesh in order to meet the growing demand of the beneficiaries.