National Agroforestry Policy 2014


Ajit Kumar AJIT KUMARWISDOM IAS, New Delhi.

India became the first nation in the world to adopt an agroforestry policy. The National Agroforestry Policy 2014  which deals with the practice of integrating trees, crops and livestock on the same plot of land, was launched onFebruary 10,2014 the first day of the World Congress on Agroforestry, held in Delhi. The four-day congress in Delhi underlined the benefits of agroforestry—restoring barren land, reducing poverty and malnutrition by tripling yields, feeding animals, protecting running water, conserving biodiversity, protecting wildlife, and holding and repairing soils.
Major Goals of 2014 Policy
- Setting up a National Agroforestry Mission or an Agroforestry Board to implement the National Policy by bringing coordination, convergence and synergy among various elements of agroforestry scattered in various existing, missions, programmes, schemes and agencies pertaining to agriculture, environment, forestry, and rural development sectors of the Government.
- Improving the productivity; employment, income and livelihood opportunities of rural households, especially of the smallholder farmers through agroforestry.
- Meeting the ever increasing demand of timber, food, fuel, fodder, fertilizer, fibre, and other agroforestry products; conserving the natural resources and forest; protecting the environment & providing environmental security; and increasing the forest / tree cover, there is a need to increase the availability of these from outside the natural forests.
Basic Objectives
The basic objectives of the National Agroforestry Policy 2014 are to:
(i)  Encourage and expand tree plantation in complementarity and integrated manner with crops and livestock to improve productivity, employment, income and livelihoods of rural households, especially the small holder farmers.
(ii) Protect and stabilize ecosystems, and promote resilient cropping and farming systems to minimize the risk during extreme climatic events. (iii) Meet the raw material requirements of wood based industries and reduce import of wood and wood products to save foreign exchange.
(iv) Supplement the availability of agroforestry products (AFPs), such as the fuel-wood, fodder, non-timber forest produce and small timber of the rural and tribal populations, thereby reducing the pressure on existing forests.
(v) Complement achieving the target of increasing forest/tree cover to promote ecological stability, especially in the vulnerable regions. (vi) Develop capacity and strengthen research in agroforestry and create a massive people's movement for achieving these objectives and to minimize pressure on existing forests.
New Delhi Declaration on Agroforestry
Over 1,000 delegates from 80 countries assembled in Delhi  for the agroforestry congress and adopted a declaration for the next five years. The first congress was held in 2004 in Nairobi. The theme of this congress was: Trees for Life: Accelerating the impact of Agroforestry.
The congress proposes embracing new agroforestry science practices and technology, advocacy for institutional reforms for promoting agroforestry, engaging farmers with small landholdings in robust business and supply chain and creating platform network among developing countries to encourage research among other things.   
At present, over one billion hectares of agricultural land, almost half of the world's farmland, have more than 10 percent of their area covered by trees. Out of it, 160 million hectares have more than 50 per cent tree cover. As the amount of global forest shrinks, growing trees on farms for all kinds of purposes become more important.
Agroforestry Defined
Agroforestry is defined as a land use system which integrate trees and shrubs on farmlands and rural landscapes to enhance productivity, profitability, diversity and ecosystem sustainability. It is a dynamic, ecologically based, natural resource management system that, through integration of woody perennials on farms and in the agricultural landscape, diversifies and sustains production and builds social institutions.
Agroforestry systems include both traditional and modern land-use systems where trees are managed together with crops and or/ animal production systems in agricultural settings. Agroforestry is practiced in both irrigated and rain fed conditions where it produces food, fuel, fodder, timber, fertilizer and fibre, contributes to food, nutritional and ecological security, sustains livelihoods, alleviates poverty and promotes productive and resilient cropping and farming environments. Agroforestry also has the potential to enhance ecosystem services through carbon storage, prevention of deforestation, biodiversity conservation, and soil and water conservation. In addition, when strategically applied on a large scale, with appropriate mix of species, agroforestry enables agricultural land to withstand extreme weather events, such as floods and droughts, and climate change.
Agroforestry has significant potential to provide employment to rural and urban population through production, industrial application and value addition ventures. Current estimates show that about 65 % of the country’s timber requirement is met from the trees grown on farms. Agroforestry also generates significant employment opportunities.
It is also recognized that agroforestry is perhaps the only alternative to meeting the target of increasing forest or tree cover to 33 per cent from the present level of less than 25 per cent, as envisaged in the National Forest Policy (1988).
A major role for agroforestry is emerging in the domain of environmental services. Agroforestry is known to have the potential to mitigate the climate change effects through microclimate moderation and natural resources conservation in the short run and through carbon sequestration in the long run. Agroforestry species are known to sequester as much carbon in below ground biomass as the primary forests, and far greater than the crop and grass systems.
Agroforestry systems offer means to address to a significant extent the present challenges of food, nutrition, energy, employment and environmental security. However, appropriate research interventions, adequate investment, suitable extension strategies, incentives to agroforestry practitioners, enabling legal and regulatory environment, marketing of agroforestry produce, post-harvest processing, development of new products, and above all a forward looking National
Agroforestry Policy is required to address these issues.
Given the fact that land-holding size is shrinking, tree farming combined with agriculture is perhaps the only way forward to optimize the farm productivity and thus, enhancing livelihood opportunities of small farmers, landless and the women. Agroforestry interventions can be a potent instrument to help achieve the 4 percent sustained growth in agriculture. In short, trees on farm or agroforestry are uniquely place for achieving multiple objectives, especially the food, nutrition, employment, health and environmental security. It is contended that an ever-green revolution is unlikely without a major groundswell of growing trees on farms.
Agroforestry can become an important tool to build resilience of farmers and rural people against threats of climate change and natural calamities. This can also help in greening the rural employment and rural development opportunities by providing agroforestry tree produce based economic opportunities.
 


Monday, 23rd Mar 2015, 07:37:36 AM

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