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AGROFORESTRY: A STRATEGY FOR CLIMATE RESILIENCE IN INDIA



  Jun 10, 2024

AGROFORESTRY: A STRATEGY FOR CLIMATE RESILIENCE IN INDIA



Introduction

Agroforestry: Agroforestry is the purposeful integration of trees or shrubs with crops and/or livestock at the plot, farm, and/or landscape scale. This approach is a potential climate change adaptation strategy that enhances the resilience of farmers and agricultural systems against climate risks, providing a range of biophysical and socioeconomic benefits. Recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports highlight agroforestry as a promising agroecological approach due to its multitude of co-benefits, including synergies with climate change mitigation through carbon sequestration, enhanced food security, increased income opportunities, provisioning of ecosystem services, and biodiversity conservation.

Agroforestry in the Indian Context

India, with its diverse agro-climatic zones, has a long tradition of integrating trees with agricultural practices. The country’s agroforestry systems are vital for sustainable agriculture and rural livelihoods. India’s agroforestry policy aims to amplify the benefits of agroforestry through strategic interventions and support systems.

Benefits of Agroforestry in India

1. Climate Change Adaptation:

• Enhanced Resilience: Trees and shrubs integrated with crops help reduce the impact of climate variability, such as droughts and floods.
• Microclimate Regulation: Trees improve microclimates by providing shade, reducing wind speed, and maintaining soil moisture.

2. Climate Change Mitigation:

• Carbon Sequestration: Agroforestry systems sequester carbon in trees and soil, contributing to climate change mitigation efforts.
• Reduced Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Integrating trees with agriculture reduces the need for chemical inputs, thereby lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

3. Food Security and Income:

• Diverse Production: Agroforestry systems provide a variety of products, including fruits, nuts, fodder, fuelwood, and timber, enhancing food security and income diversification.
• Sustainable Livelihoods: Farmers gain additional income from tree products, reducing their dependency on a single crop.

4. Ecosystem Services:

• Soil Health: Trees improve soil fertility through nutrient cycling and prevent soil erosion.
• Water Conservation: Agroforestry enhances water infiltration and reduces surface runoff, aiding water conservation.

5. Biodiversity Conservation:

• Habitat Provision: Trees and shrubs in agroforestry systems create habitats for various species, supporting biodiversity.
• Pollination and Pest Control: Enhanced biodiversity improves pollination services and natural pest control.

India’s Agroforestry Policy

India’s National Agroforestry Policy (NAP), launched in 2014, aims to integrate trees into agricultural landscapes to achieve sustainable agricultural development and environmental conservation. Key features of the policy include:

1. Institutional Support:
• Establishment of the National Agroforestry Mission (NAM) to coordinate and promote agroforestry practices.
• Development of state-specific agroforestry policies to address local needs and conditions.

2. Research and Development:
• Promotion of research on agroforestry practices, species selection, and management techniques.
• Collaboration with research institutions to develop and disseminate agroforestry technologies.

3. Incentives and Subsidies:
• Provision of financial incentives and subsidies to farmers adopting agroforestry.
• Support for nurseries and planting material to ensure the availability of quality seedlings.

4. Capacity Building:
• Training programs for farmers, extension workers, and other stakeholders on agroforestry practices.
• Awareness campaigns to highlight the benefits of agroforestry.

5. Market Access:
• Facilitation of market access for agroforestry products through value chain development.
• Support for processing and marketing of tree-based products.

Conclusion

Agroforestry is a vital strategy for building climate resilience in India’s agricultural systems. The integration of trees with crops and livestock offers numerous benefits, including enhanced resilience to climate change, increased food security, and improved livelihoods. By implementing the National Agroforestry Policy and promoting sustainable agroforestry practices, India can significantly contribute to climate change adaptation and mitigation while fostering sustainable agricultural development.



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