The Jakarta Post
India has announced investments worth around US$30-40 million in its first ever national agroforestry policy designed to put more trees back in timber farms to benefit people and the environment.
India's National Advisory Council secretary, Rita Sharma, announced the policy during the World Congress on Agroforestry 2014 in New Delhi this week.
The considerable new investments will be made in research, extension and capacity building, in which greater industry involvement is also a major target.
'All the stakeholders can have their input,' said Sharma in a release made available to The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
An estimated 65 percent of India's timber and almost half of its fuel wood come from trees grown in farms. Agroforestry covers about 13.5 million hectares in India. Yet, the potential to expand it, especially with small marginal farmers, is enormous.
Eighty percent of India's farmers are smallholders with two hectares or less and 60 percent of the cultivated areas rely on infrequent and low rainfall. The land is on the margins of agricultural productivity. It lacks water and has low biodiversity.
The policy is expected to benefit the country's farmers by offering incentives for agroforestry, insurance plans and greater access to markets for agroforestry products. This can also help the environment and mitigate negative impacts of climate change.
'Natural conservation has taken a backseat owing to the restless human drive toward urbanization, industrialization and food production. It has also suffered the impact of climate change, which has now captured global attention,' Indian President Shri Pranab Mukherjee said.
'2014 should be a defining moment for evolving tree-based production systems to fight the debilitating impact of climate change in agriculture,' he went on. (ebf)