Raktchandhan - Pride of India, Prized Wood of the Millenia!
India and Indians have been awaiting this precious cash crop known as ' Red Sanders ' for hundreds of years. India is one of only six countries with favorable soil and climate conditions for Red Sanders to grow and was once a major supplier to the rest of the world. The heart-wood of Red Sanders grown in South India bear excellent quality and can be found only in five districts of Andhra Pradesh. It is a unique and rare form of wood, which can be expressed as ‘Pride of India’.
The demand and popularity of Raktchandhan can be gauged from the fact that a tonne of red sanders costs anything between Rs 50 lakh to Rs 1 crore in the International market. Andhra Pradesh in India has some of the most extensive forest areas which are home to thousands of Red Sandal trees. However in the recent past the situation became such that India had to import Red Sander Wood from other countries as the natural resource from the forests had almost come to an extinct. This wild tree yields crores of rupees with minimal human intervention or care for its growth.
Finally in the year 2008, with Government of India amending its act and giving permissions to cultivate Red Sanders has opened doors for individuals and co-operate bodies to relish the rich outcome of cultivating this wild crop.
It’s time to look into the facts and analyze the scope of Red Sander farming and it’s also time for the Landlords and the developers to get together creating a win – win situation for both the communities.
The maturity period for Red Sandalwood trees in wild conditions in forest is 20-25 years however under organized farming the maturity period can be expected in 12-15 years. The large scale Red Sander trees can be grown through best farming practices under the supervision of subject specialists to get high quality heart wood.
In South India, especially in land regions near Seshachalam, Veligandla, Talakona, Palakonda, Cumbum forests, due to the favorable soil and climate conditions to grow, Raktchandhan / Red Sanders will yield better results.
Procrastination Won't Help the Next Generation
Beauty of the Wood
Pterocarpus santalinus, with the common names red sanders, red sandalwood, Raktchandhan, and saunderswood, is a species of Pterocarpus endemic to the Southern Eastern Ghats mountain range of South India in the Seshachalam mountain ranges of Chittoor, Nellore, Prakasam, Kadapa and Kurnool districts of Andhra Pradesh. This tree is valued for the rich red color of its wood. The wood is not aromatic. The tree is not to be confused with the aromatic Santalum sandalwood trees that grow natively in South India.
Raktchandhan is a moderate-sized deciduous tree with clear trunk and dense rounded crown and is a sunlight-demanding small tree, growing to 10 -15 meters (40-60 ft) tall with a trunk 50–150 cm diameter under favorable growing conditions.
It is fast-growing when young, reaching 5 meters (16 ft) tall in three years, even on degraded soils. It is not frost tolerant, being killed by temperatures of −1 °C.
The blackish-brown bark is fissured and resembles crocodile skin. The inner bark when injured or cut oozes red colored ‘santolin’ dye. The wood is extremely hard and dark red in color with a specific gravity of 1.109.
The leaves are alternate, 3–9 cm long, trifoliate with three leaflets. The flowers are produced in short racemes. The fruit is a pod 6–9 cm long containing one or two seeds.
Where are Raktchandhan Trees distributed?
Red sander occurs in the forest formation which is classified as “Southern Tropical Dry Deciduous Forests” as per champion and Seth Classification and falls in the eco-terrestrial region Deccan Thorn Scub Forests and as well as Central Deccan Plateau Dry Deciduous Forests. It generally found at altitudes of 150-900m. It grows on dry, hilly, often rocky ground, and occasionally found on precipitous hill sides also.
It prefers lateritic and gravelly soil and cannot tolerate water logging. In natural habitat the tree experiences hot, dry climate with normal rainfall of 88-105 cm received from north-east and south-west monsoons.
Red Sanders has a highly restrictive distribution in the South Eastern portion of Indian peninsula to which it is endemic. The Palakinda and Seshachalam hill ranges of Cuddapah-Chittoor districts of state of Andhra Pradesh are its principal geographical range which extends into the neighboring Anantapur, Kurnool, Prakasam and Nellore Districts of Andhra Pradesh. These forests are found in the inner slopes on Veligonda hills of Tirupati and Srikalahasti ranges.
- [Source: A.Bhagyaraj, Research Scholar, Department of Management Studies,
Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati]