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Grow Trees to get Paper
andhra pradesh is on its journey to become one of the top paper producing states in the country. All it requires is to obtain the raw materials in position.
The Indian pulp and paper industry is highly fragmented with equal share of production between the large mills which are integrated and wood based, waste paper board mills, and agri residue based mills.

Paper companies say that access to latest technology, particularly for pulp cooking and environmental safety standards is not a problem. Many of the paper manufacturing companies have realized that it pays to start their own agro planning methods to source raw material. In the last 15 to 20 years most of the manufacturers have got into the farm forestry area to grow pulpable wood.

There are four major paper companies in Andhra Pradesh-The Andhra Pradesh Paper Mills, ITC Bhadrachalam, Sirpur paper mills, and AP Rayons. Both ITC Bhadrachalam and APPM have been growing more raw materials than they require. While the annual requirement of raw material for APPM is 1.60 lakh tonnes, it is around 2 lakh tonnes for ITC BPL, AP Rayons needs 1.2 lakh tonnes, while Sirpur consumes 80,000 tonnes. As it is involved in the manufacture of paperboards, ITC-BPL also has the advantage of having a good quantum of waste paper and thereby their requirement of pulp is lower. The annual requirement for wood for all the units in Andhra Pradesh is to the tune of 13 lakh tonnes of wood. While APMML grows 6 lakh tonnes of wood, private players account for more than eight lakh tonnes of wood and the Govt of Andhra Pradesh grow about a lakh tonnes.

Companies like Andhra Pradesh Paper Mills have the fortune of being located close to the coast and the forestry areas get a good amount of rainfall. Farmers in the marginal area are combining their cash crops with wood plantations and have reaped the financial benefits. APPM sources their wood from three types of plantations, Casurina, Subabul and Eucalyptus. Casurina grows in the coastal areas of Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam and East Godavari districts. Subabul is growing Prakasam, Ongole and Nellore areas, while Eucalyptus grows well in Khammam, West Godavari and Prakasam districts. "Raw material is the only constraint to increasing production" says R C Mall, Executive Director of Andhra Pradesh Paper Mills (APPM) one of the major players in the paper sector in Andhra Pradesh.

All these three types of wood are fast growing, reaching their maturity in four to five years depending on the soil, rainfall and climatic conditions. Compared to cash crops, income for a farmer from sugarcane will be double while it will be triple in the case of pulpwood. The only difference is that the income from cash crops and sugar cane are annual or bi-annual while in the case of pulpwood, the return comes in after four to five years. Compared to cash crops, which are bi-annual or annual in nature, the return on pulpwood will be once in four years.

In 1989, APPM began a movement for distribution of seedlings to farmers. Today over 6 cr seedlings are being distributed and even with a 85% mortality there would be enough to go around. It is estimated by the company that even 3 cr seedlings would more than suffice for their captive material consumption. APPM is now using clonal technology, which doubles the production per hectare. Farmers who have for decades invested in this have the financial wherewithal to stand the initial high costs.

With paper demand likely to grow by leaps and bounds, APPM is ready to reap the benefits with its long-term planning.
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Posted on : 7/11/2005
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