Scientists launch app to assist tree growers, farmers

COIMBATORE: In a bid to encourage and assist tree growers and farmers, scientists at the city-based Institute of Forest Genetics and Tree Breeding have developed a mobile app that focuses specifically on common diseases affecting forest trees. The app also allows people to upload a picture of the diseased portion of the tree for more information. The app managers will look at the picture and guide the user on how to treat the specific problem.

The android app, titled ‘Forest Tree Diseases‘, was released at the conference held in Bangalore in December. “The app deals with 16 major forest nursery and plantation diseases. It has information about organisms that cause diseases, symptoms of the disease and control measures that can be taken,” IFGTB director Mohit Gera said. Diseases are usually caused by fungi, bacteria and viruses, the ENVIS coordinator who manages the app, Dr Kannan Warrier, said.

“In cases where the app user, usually a farmer, private individual grower or forest department staff, does not still have sufficient information to control the problem, he or she can upload a picture of the diseased portion of the tree and the tree. The ENVIS team, managing the app, will look at the picture, and directly message or the farmer and explain the disease and control measures,” added the director.

This comes at a time when the ministry of forests, environment and is encouraging growing and farming of pulpwood, teak wood and other forest trees outside the reserve forest areas. “The central government aims to meet all their pulp, fuel and fodder and timber demands domestically and from trees farmed outside forest areas,” Mohit Gera said. “The aim is to reduce import of wood and completely stop felling of trees in our forests,” he said. “All institutions under the MoEfcc are working on increasing area under forest tree plantations across different agro climatic zones by encouraging more farmers and individuals to get into tree growing,” he added.

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