Agroforestry Research in India: experience of hundred years with focus on organized national programme
Agroforestry Research in India: experience of hundred years with focus on organized national programmewca2014-1461 Shiv Kumar Dhyani 1,* 1ICAR, National Research Centre for Agroforestry (ICAR), Jhansi, India
Agroforestry research in India was initiated more than hundred years ago with trials on tree-crop interactions in the tea estates, studies on silvopastoralism, intercropping experiments in plantation crops and successional studies in the ravines. Diagnostic survey and appraisal, initiated in early eighties under the AICRP on Agroforestry, revealed that agroforestry practices abound in the country. There exists considerable variability in the nature and arrangement of the components and the ecological and socio-economic conditions under which such systems are practiced. Major practices include multifunctional improved fallows, home gardens, plantation crop-based mixed species production systems, alley cropping, woodlots, orchards, windbreaks, live fences, shifting cultivation and taungya. A preliminary estimate indicated area under agroforestry in India as 25.32 million ha. Germplasm of 184 tree species has been collected and evaluated and improved accessions of poplars, eucalypts, Dalbergia, neem, Acacia, Leucaena, Ailanthus, Pongamia, Casuarina and Mangium hybrids have been identified. Other research themes include development of volume tables and growth equations for estimating tree productivity, development of location-specific agroforestry practices for different agro-climates and wastelands and economic analysis of these systems. Agroforestry has now emerged as a promising land use activity and it has the potential to enhance above- and below-ground carbon stocks to mitigate climate change. Carbon sequestration potential of smallholder agroforestry systems ranges from 1.5 to 3.5 Mg C ha-1yr-1. Agroforestry initiatives also resulted in significant amount of wood production from outside the forestlands and promoted rural industrialization in certain localities which benefitted the small landholders and marginal farmers. Indeed, agroforestry is providing bulk of the country’s domestically produced timber. Sericulture and apiculture along with value addition provide additional opportunities for augmenting economic returns of the agroforesters. However, there exists certain constraints that limit adoption of agroforestry and efforts are on to develop a national Agroforestry Policy to overcome the constraints.