Compass CHT-FLR Program Established Local Planting Materials Sources in Remote Hills
The availability of quality planting materials is significantly essential for successful hill forest restoration activities. To produce quality seedlings near the restoration sites, it is essential to engage community people in nursery development. However, there was no nursery in the forest land restoration (FLR) project area. The nearby nurseries were in Bandarban town from where carrying seedlings to the project sites in remote hills was enormously difficult and expensive. Furthermore, seedlings of indigenous species of the CHT (Chittagong Hill Tracts) forests were hardly available in the existing nurseries in Bandarban.
To address this issue, Compass CHT-FLR Program motivated and trained 10 people (including 3 women) from four villages of the project area in Rowangchari Sadar Union in nursery establishment and plant propagation techniques through a 5-day training course with the help of experts from the Institute of Forestry and Environmental Science of Chittagong University (IFESCU) in 2021. Eight out of the ten trained people (including 2 women), took initiative to establish nurseries in their own lands. The project provided them with the necessary materials for the establishment of the nursery and to raise seedlings (working shed, fencing, propagation beds, irrigation and drainage facilities, seeds, manure, tools, etc.). The training and material support and, most importantly, regular follow-up and coaching by the project staff enabled them to successfully produce an appreciable quantity of seedlings of indigenous tree species that are required by the project. They supplied 29,261 seedlings of about 30 local species to the project for the restoration activities in 2022 and earned approximately BDT 650,000 (approx. USD 6200). Compass CHT-FLR program also helped the Arannayk Foundation to establish a big nursery of diverse tree species to supplement the supply of the huge quantity of seedlings that it would require for the planned restoration program.
Considering the local demand for grafted saplings of fruit trees, required for the scale and sustainability of the private nurseries, Compass (CHT-FLR) arranged another 5-day training course on advanced propagation techniques and nursery management for fruit trees at the Horticultural Germplasm Centre of Bangladesh Agricultural University (BAU-GPC), Mymensingh in 2022. This training further accelerated the interest and confidence of the local nursery entrepreneurs of the CHT-FLR project area to increase and further diversity production of quality planting materials in their nurseries.
Mrs. Cromo Ching Marma (28), one of those eight nursery entrepreneurs from Aungjai Para village has established a small nursery of 2 decimal land next to her house and year about BDT 38,000 (approx. USD 362) by selling 1,800 seedlings. She expressed her joy saying, “My seedlings are planted in different hills of Rowangchari which will grow into big trees in future. I am very happy to think that. My dream was like I will be an entrepreneur which is becoming true. So, I will continue doing my nursery”.