1. Agripedia

Teak Cultivation and Market Analysis

Hitul Awasthi
Hitul Awasthi
Teak trees

Introduction  

Teak (Tectona grandis) is one of the most important hardwood timber trees of India and is distributed naturally in the peninsular region below 24oN latitude. Teak forests are found in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh (small extent), Gujarat, Orissa, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh and Manipur. The species is indigenous to India and the South-east Asian region.  

Teak is a deciduous tree and can attain a height of more than 30 m.  Young leaves are red in colour but become dark green at maturity.  Inflorescence is large, flowers are white in colour, producing sticky pollens for cross pollination, and become inflated at maturity. The flowers appear from June to September and fruits ripen from November to January. Teak sheds leaves from November to January. 

Importance of Teak 

Teakwood is the best timber for the manufacture of door, window frames and shutters, wagon and carriage, furniture, cabinets, ships, agricultural implements, decorative flooring and wall panelling due to its moderate weight, appropriate strength, dimensional stability and durability, easy workability and finishing qualities.

In indigenous medicine, the leaves are employed, and their extract shows full suppression of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Flowers are said to be beneficial in the treatment of disorders such as biliousness, bronchitis, and urine discharge. The leaves contain yellow and red dyes that are suitable for coloring silk, wool, and cotton. The bark is considered an astringent and can help with bronchitis.

COVID-19 impacts on Teakwood development 

World Teak Conference is a world-class event for exchange of knowledge and experience on technological innovations in teak management and trade. But, due to COVID-19 pandemic, the organizers of the 4th World Teak Conference 2020 (WTC 2020) decided to postpone the conference to August 23-26, 2021 in Accra, Ghana. The event will still take place with the same program in the same venue, the change is only in the dates.  

Teak cultivation

Trade  

The commerce in teakwood has increased significantly in recent years. Teak is still highly valued and in high demand in Europe, providing its legal and sustainable origin is proven. Because teak species do not tolerate competition and are site specific, the emphasis should be on using improved planting stock and early deployment of silvicultural treatments to achieve fast growth and high yields from plantations.

The increased trade volume of teakwood necessitated the use of systematic approach for monitoring supply chain. Thus, from 1st January, 2022, the international trade in teakwood will be recorded in Harmonized System nomenclature 2022 (HS 2022) Edition. HS 2022 will be used for the uniform classification of goods traded internationally all over the world. Developed by the World Customs Organization (WCO), the HS system aims to facilitate collection of customs tariff and international trade data. With these innovations in the teakwood trade, it is sure to see a great emphasis on policy, for development of teak sector in near future.  

The International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) promotes sustainable management and conservation of tropical forests and the expansion and diversification of international trade in tropical timber from sustainably managed and legally harvested forests. It develops policy guidelines and norms to encourage sustainable forest management (SFM) and sustainable tropical timber industries and trade. 

Marketing

Teakwood is very valued due to its quality timber, good woodworking, finishing capabilities, and most appealing grain, texture, and color, which makes it very precious and boosts its use for furniture, carving, cabinet making, door and window making. Decking, deck houses, rails, bulwarks, hatches, weather doors, and planking have all been made from it.

The massive teak trees from the Western Ghats region (with high rain fall range) are used for structural demands such as ship and boat building, construction, and bridge building. Teak from the Central Indian region is noted for its color, texture, and grains, making it ideal for furniture and aesthetic purposes.

Teak wood of Godavari valley in Andhra Pradesh is used for furniture and cabinet making for its ornamental figuring. Teak wood markets and depots are available in all teak growing states in India. 

Role of Forest based industries in tree plantations  

Forest-based companies were very profitable since the majority of them received raw materials at subsidized prices, resulting in non-sustainable usage of forest stocks. However, due to increased demand and harvesting limits in natural forests. Forest-based industries began plantations on private properties with the help of farmers, to whom they provide financial and technical assistance. Forest-based enterprises have also approached the government about leasing degraded forest lands for plantings in order to meet their raw material needs.

The National Forest Policy of 1988 lays down that: “As far as possible, a forest-based industry should raise raw material needed for meeting its own requirement by establishing a direct relationship between the factory and the individuals who can grow the raw material”. Industries like Western India Match Company Ltd (WIMCO), ITC, Bhadrachalam Paper Mills and Ballarpur Industries Ltd, have entered into arrangements with farmers to meet their raw material requirements. Several entrepreneurs encouraged people to invest in tree plantations with the goal of realizing great profits from the sale of tree produce.  

Teak wood is the top class of housing- and furniture-grade timbers in India. Despite the fact that India is one of the world's largest producers of teak, a significant amount of timber is imported to supply the domestic demand of the plywood and veneer industries. Teak plantations have grown in importance as a means of bridging the gap between teak wood demand and supply.

Policy recommendations by Lao PDR  

The workshop, “Lao Teak Forum: Sustainable Teak Value Chains for Sustainable Local Development” was convened on 19–20 February 2020 at Vientiane capital.  

Dr. Hwan-ok MA, ITTO Project Manager said that smallholder teak plantations have the potential to be a driver of sustainable development in the lower Mekong by improving the livelihoods and landscapes of rural communities. This will be crucial for tapping into high-value markets, such as in Europe.  

The Forum participants noted that if smallholder farmer receives technical knowhow, high-quality planting material at lower cost and a modest financial incentives under secured land tenure and supportive policies, teak plantations can be well established for their sustainable livelihoods. 

Major Constrains in Teak Cultivation in India (by Khandagale et. al., 2012)– 

  • High prices of fertilizers and plant protection chemicals

  • Non-availability of loan and skilled-labour for planting

  • Difficulty in gathering information about teak plantation and permission about felling

women working in the field for teak cultivation

Silvicultural operations in teak plantations  

Nursery raising 

Teak germination is frequently low because of dormancy. To break the dormancy of the seeds, they must be pre-treated for a week by alternately watering and drying them.

The seeds were planted in elevated nursery beds (10 x 1 x 0.3 m) that had been prepared with a soil and sand mixture. Watered on a regular basis and protected with coconut leaf or paddy straw. Germination begins 10 to 15 days after seeding and lasts 35 to 45 days. Once the seed has begun to germinate, remove the covering. The seedlings can be transplanted into polythene bags or kept in nursery beds for 10 to 12 months to prepare stumps.

Site selection 

Ascertain the suitability of a given site for teak, because teak will only thrive if planted on the correct site. A slight variation in the growth conditions can result in a huge variation in yields.  

Soil 

Deep, well-drained alluvial soils, a moderately moist, warm, tropical environment, and pH levels ranging from 6.5 to 7.5. Because teak is prone to soil deterioration, plantations should be planted on undulating and somewhat flat terrain, with slopes greater than 12o avoided.

Climate

Grows in places where rainfall range between 800-2500 mm and up to an altitude of about 1,200 m amsl. Can withstand temperature ranging from 13-44oC. 

Light

A high light intensity, between 75 and 100% of the full sunlight is required for better growth and development. 

Drainage and irrigation 

Teak is very sensitive to poor drainage, so irrigation should be applied during stress period to boost the growth.  

Pre-plant operations 

Land should be thoroughly cleaned and well prepared with bush clearing and burning to reduce the level of the fuel load within the site. Lining out and pitting should start well in advance before the onset of rains. In India, a spacing of 2 x 2 m with an initial planting density of 2,500 tress/ha is practiced. Quality pits (25 cm long by 25cm wide by 25 cm deep) will allow seedlings to establish a proper rooting system that ensures survival. 

Experts observing the field

Teak can also be raised along with agricultural crops at a spacing of 4m x 4m or 5m x 5m. For this 45 x 45 x 45 cm sizes pit should be filled with a mixture of FYM, Fertilizers, and soil.   

Planting operation 

For planting, choose high-quality clonal plants or seedlings. Seed production areas (SPA) are created by converting the best natural stand or plantation by eliminating inferior trees and leaving only good trees to provide quality seeds for plantation raising. It serves as a stopgap measure until the seed orchards produce seed.

Gap filling 

Should be done within the same rainy season, and during procurement of seedlings, an extra 20% should be reserved for this operation. If mortality is significant, then farmers should opt for replanting the field. 

Weeding 

Weeds and other species will have an adverse effect on their growth. Thus, weed control is a critical inter-cultural activity in teak plantations. Weed control can be accomplished by a combination of chemical and manual weeding procedures.

Pruning and Thinning 

Pruning should be done during the active growing season. To protect trees from fires, all epicormic and branches should be moved 6 m inside while pruning, and any debris around the trees should be removed. To limit disease transmission, keep cuts clean.

To avoid competition among the trees, thinning should be done. To make greater room for growth, any forking and poorly developed crowns and stems should be removed.

Protection and management 

Forest fire management should be planned, with a clear strategy for monitoring and suppression. 

In India about 300 species of insects have so far been reported to be associated with teak. Teak defoliator (Hyblaea puera and Eutectona machaeralis) cause extensive damage to young plantations. Root rot due to Polyporous zonalis is also common in the plantation. Pink disease fungus causes cankers and bark flaking. Powdery mildew caused by Olivea tectonae & Uncinula tectonae leads to premature defoliation. 

Fresh leaf extracts of Azadirachta indica were found to be most effective against teak skeletonizers. 

Harvesting 

First quality teak yields at 20 years of age, when the average diameter is 27.2 cm and the average height is 23.2m.  

Pieces of teak wood

Measures to improve productivity in Teak plantation 

  • Use high yielding clones

  • Use genetically superior seeds

  • Use Hybrids

  • Select good plantation site

  • Proper silvicultural practices

Plus Tree Selection 

Plus tree is a superior phenotype selected and further deployed in breeding program for collection of improved seeds. The selected Plus trees are felled and coppice shoots used for multiplication. 

India has a vast genetic resource of teak. A National Teak Germplasm bank has been established at Chandrapur in Maharashtra for ex-situ conservation of genetic diversity of Teak in India. 

Tree based farming in India (source: PIB) 

India is the first nation in the world to adopt National Agroforestry Policy (NAP) at World Agroforesty Congress held at Delhi in 2014. Agroforestry help produce food, fuel, fodder, timber, fertilizer and contributes to food, nutritional and ecological security. 

Under “Har Medh Par Pedh” scheme of GOI, agroforestry is being promoted for supplementing farm income, improve risk management and climate resilient agriculture. 

Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education (ICFRE) has developed various Agroforestry models with Teak – 

1. Agri–silvicultural models –

Teak + Casuarinas with agricultural crops like maize, cotton, turmeric, tomato and chilly 

2. Agri-silvi-horticulture models –

Teak + coconut with agricultural crops like turmeric, vegetables, maize and cotton 

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