(Deccan Herald, January 4, 2004)
The economic gains obtained from the thorny bushes grown in the Koppal district is one of the finest examples of making use of limited resources in the best possible way.
As the arid plain of north Karnataka is not blessed with natural water bodies, the people in the region have to make do with the available resources. Prosopus Julifera, popularly known as ‘Bellary Jaali’ or ‘Reaser Jaali’ is a variety of thorny bush that grows in areas with less rainfall and abundant sunlight. Since Koppal, Bellary, Raichur, Gulbarga and Bijapur districts of north Karnataka receive less rain, it grows in abundance in these regions and has become a great source of income for the farmers here.
The Central government came up with the idea of planting it in these regions in the 70s’. The task was executed on a war footing by sowing the seeds with the help of helicopters. Within a year, the entire region was filled with these plants, thereby improving the financial condition of the farmers.
Black earthen heaps, with smoke coming out of it is a common sight if you visit places like Sompur, Siddekoppa and Malekoppa in Koppal district. Here, these thorny bushes, which yield tons of fuel wood at low cost is converted into charcoal. The highlight of this product called ‘Sompur Charcoal’ is that it’s manufactured in an eco-friendly manner.
A bag of charcoal generally weighs 60 kg and fetches Rs 70. With regular orders from Hassan, Chennai, Vizag, Mumbai, and Bangalore, the farmers seem to have a boom time.