TAD NewsDesk, New Delhi: Climate crisis has been touted as one of the major reasons that could trigger the impending doom of humankind as we know it, and not without cause. And while it might seem incredulous, the twin industries of Farming and Agriculture contribute significantly to it. While the former is responsible for 30% of greenhouse gas emissions, the latter causes 80% of tropical deforestation.
Researchers are of the view that regenerative agroforestry can help to mitigate this impending disaster.
Michael Jacobson, professor of forest resources at Penn State, headed a research study which analysed the data of 53 published research pieces to see the impact of agroforestry on the soil. He said,
“We showed that agroforestry systems play an effective role in global carbon sequestration, involved in carbon capture and the long-term storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The process is critical to mitigating or deferring global warming.”
What is agroforestry?
Agroforestry is a system which allows plants, trees, shrubs and livestock to cohabitate in the same plot of land. It helps small farmers with less land to increase their income and maximize their resources.
Among others, this system provides with the following advantages:
- It contributes to restoring land.
- Helps to curb climate change
- Safeguard local biodiversity
- Strengthen the food and nutritional securities for the growing population
Michael Jacobson pointed out that already some governments are providing with economic benefits to those farmers who adopt this method. This strategy is most prevalent in tropical countries like Brazil, Indonesia and Kenya. The farmers of these regions are comparatively poorer and desperately needs economic assistance.
“In the United States, you can see agroforestry much more from an environmental point of view and the economic benefits—while important—are secondary,” Jacobson says. “But in the tropics, you must have the economic benefits to make it work or farmers won’t do it. Most only have an acre or two of land and they need all these products for their families to survive, so the trees are vital. That is an important distinction, I think.”
He also added,
“Unfortunately, there is a tendency to treat agriculture and forestry separately when addressing natural-resource concerns, but agroforestry offers a set of conservation and production technologies that can help to integrate forestry and agriculture efforts beyond carbon cycles, such as water quality and biological diversity.”
Scope of Agroforestry in REDD+
According to the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), agroforestry is a potential strategy that could be deployed for UN’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD+) mechanism.
In the last 20 years, the growth of positive impacts of agroforestry has been observed by researchers around the world. It has been deployed for projects at various levels which could be broadly categorized as:
- Addressing the concerns of deforestation along with integrated conservation.
- Developmental projects
- REDD+ sub-national projects.
According to a study, in African countries where REDD+ strategy has been deployed, nearly half of them agrees to agroforestry as an effective, efficient and equitable REDD+ delivery strategic option.
However, some technical, policy and economic challenges are yet to be addressed. And this could be an important step to increase the scope of agroforestry in REDD+.
Some of the fundamental technical challenges are :
- Availability of good quality planting material for desired species.
- Limited Agronomical knowledge upon optimal shade management in sustainably intensive and diversified agroforestry systems and processing of products.
Similarly, economical and policy challenges encompass the following areas:
- Unclear rights to land, trees and carbon.
- Unavailability of proper market infrastructure.
- Deficiency of workers.
- Long periods for recovery of investments.
To conclude, agroforestry has not only one but several benefits. It will help small scale farmers become more empowered and financially strong. Most importantly, it will help mitigate the impending disaster of climate change to show a way forward for a healthy environment.