Livelihood diversification through agroforestry in semi arid regions of Indiawca2014-2017 Prasad V. Jasti 1,*Srinivasa Rao Ch 1Venkateswarlu B 2Singh V.P 3 1Resource Management, 2Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture, Hyderabad, Hyderabad, 3ICRAF South Asia, New Delhi, India
Semi arid regions in India are distributed in an area of 111 m ha ( about 37% area), are primarily characterized by low and erratic rainfall with high variability, shallow soils with low inherent fertility status, unabated land degradation and poor economic status of farmers. Trees provide a range of products such as fruits, fodder, fuelwood, commercial/ pulpwood and environmental services such as conserving soil and water, carbon sequestration, etc. A number of agroforestry systems were developed and some of them have been adopted by farmers in semi arid regions of the country. Some of them are fruit tree based systems viz. mango (Mangifera indica), guava (Psidium guava) and aonla (Emblica officinalis), timber / pulpwood based systems (viz. Eucalyptus sps. Leucaena leucocephala, Casuarina equisetifolia, Anogeissus and Gmelina arborea and teak (Tectona grandis) which are distributed in an area of 13 m ha. Fruit tree based systems are reported to generate net returns up to Rs. 32,000/ha/year in mango, Rs. 24408/ ha/ year in aonla, Rs. 3916/ ha/ year in guava. Net returns in wood based systems are to the tune of Rs. 21875/ha/year in eucalyptus and Rs. 19695/ ha/year in leucaena which are about three times more that of the annual crops. The benefit cost of these systems can be up to 5.5 and provides reasonable returns during the years of low rainfall. Management practices, viz. introduction of animal component and high value intercrops, high density planting, canopy management, organic production practices in case of fruit trees can improve returns. The impact of these systems can be further enhanced by integrating them in developmental programs aimed at arresting land degradation and employment generation. The paper discusses the potentiality of agroforestry systems in enhancing returns to communities and opportunities for enhancing their impact further in semi arid regions.