Landbrug og skov er ikke nødvendigvis modsætninger

Forfatter billede

Agroskovbrug er en metode, der forener skov og landbrug på en bæredygtig og produktiv måde. Indien er et af de få lande, der har fået øjnene op for potentialet i det skovvenlige landbrug, skriver CGIAR fredag.

Delegates from more than 80 countries gathered in New Delhi last week at the World Congress on Agroforestry to discuss the importance and contribution of trees to climate change mitigation, health and nutrition and improved livelihoods, writes CGIAR (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research).

The event was jointly organized by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF, a member of the CGIAR Consortium), the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, the Indian Society of Agroforestry and Global Initiatives .

Despite research which has shown agroforestry’s evolving role in helping to combat food insecurity and climate change, it has yet to be included in many national policies. In India, for example, a country where 65 percent of the timber and almost half of its fuel wood is sourced from trees on farms and outside forests, the government only recently approved a policy in support of agroforestry.

The story of one young farmer showcased at the event (Nikki Chaudhary, pictured) illustrates a growing recognition of the importance of agroforestry and its role in improving livelihoods and preserving the environment.

Nikki Chaudhary also believes making agriculture attractive to youth is critical if we are to meet the challenge of feeding the world’s growing population. She said “youth can transform rural India….and hence make a tremendous contribution to both society and the environment.”

Nikki’s story

Nikki Chaudhary – prize winning blogger and young farmer (Picture courtesy Daniel Kapsoot)Together with her husband, Gaurav, Nikki runs a thriving agroforestry and dairy business in Pilibhit, Uttar Pradesh.

In her prize-winning blog, she describes how her husband, a post graduate from the Delhi School of Economics, quit his high profile job as an economic analyst to take up farming.

“Having grown up in a farming family, he knew how much an educated young person like himself could contribute to a farming community and village,” she writes.

Nikki’s blog tells the story of how Gaurav’s father, Chaudary Veerpal Singh, inspired him to choose a career in agroforestry over the corporate world. In 1987, the West India Match Company launched a campaign in Northern India encouraging farmers to adopt poplar-based agroforestry.

At a time when farmers were reluctant to plant the trees, which took seven years before they produced any income, Gaurav’s father- Chaudhary Veerpal Singh took a different view and was the first person in his village who planted poplar-based trees on his farm.

“I thought it to be my responsibility to promote trees on farms as it would not only save our forests from being cut but also benefit our environment in long run”, he recalled.

Off the beaten path: changing perceptions

Spurred on by his father’s example, Gaurav Chaudhary vowed that he too would take up farming – after first receiving an education. He decided that he would go back to his village after finishing university and get involved in farming, modernize agriculture improve both attitudes and perceptions of people towards agriculture.

Gaurav’s dedication to following in his father’s footsteps was infectious and Nikki soon got caught up in what she calls “Gaurav’s passion for farming and for rural India”. An educated woman in her own right, with an MSc in business economics from the University of Surrey, Nikki married Gaurav in 2011 and joined him on his journey.

The couple now have a great many poplars on their farm, and offer guidance to other local farmers on good agroforestry practices. They have also expanded into dairy production, selling milk from their cows to outlets in the city. In her blog, Nikki writes how their chosen path has helped them both transform their village.

“Farming needs intelligence, good know-how, and lot of professionalism to carry out complex agricultural operations. We need to change our attitude and perception towards farming and I request youth…not to underestimate farming. Agriculture has the potential to provide them with not only very good income, but also the chance to transform rural India.”

Giving back to the community

Back at Chaudhary Farms, Nikki is keen to highlight the income-earning opportunities opened up by agriculture, and by agroforestry in particular.

“My husband and I are earning more in agriculture than we could have earned through a corporate life-style.” she says.

The young Indian farmer calculates annual returns from poplar agroforestry per acre at US$2,000, compared with $491 from paddy-wheat rotation, the traditional farm practice followed in Pilibhit, where they live.

Poplars have the advantage of being ready to harvest in six years and need less management than other farming practices. They also provide farmers with the opportunity for intercropping and help meet their fuelwood requirements.

Nikki writes about how agroforestry, to some extent plays a role in making agriculture attractive to youth, which is critical if we are to meet the challenge of feeding a growing population.

In her message, she urges her peers to return to their communities after having sought an education; to give back in a way to those who toiled to ensure that their future generations could have access to an education.