Now that the farm was in its 4th year of existence, we were constantly looking at ways to monetise our investment, and get some financial returns on our effort. Our manager, Panditji, was of the opinion, that planting Poplar trees and harvesting them after 4-5 years would fetch us a decent return.
The commercials seemed to be that a fully grown Poplar tree weighs about 4-5 quintals, and the going rate for Poplar was Rs 500-600/- per quintal. So a collection of about 200 trees could fetch about Rs 500,000/-. Thats not bad!
Poplar trees need water, and are often planted on the edges of the crop fields. Aanandaa Annexe now gave us 6 crop fields which could be surrounded by Poplar trees. Also Poplars being deciduous, they lose their foliage in the winter, allowing the sun to reach the standing winter crop. So that works well.
We sourced about 450+ saplings, which look more like long sticks, and planted them all along the edge of the 6 fields. We also planted many at Aanandaa - wherever we had a good water availability, for example in low lying areas where water collected during irrigation or in swales.
Even though we had planted Ashoka trees on either side of this path at Annexe, and also has Casurina and Silver Oak on the other edges, we planted Poplars in between these trees.
They look quite charming actually, specially with their autumn colours!
The trees grow quite fast, and are very resilient. The only places we faced some mortality was where there was no regular irrigation happening in the vicinity. Remains to be seen if our plans of agroforestry actually translate into a real income!