A great deal of the World Congress on Agroforestry, held in New Delhi, focused on business: How to link smallholders to markets? How to make agroforestry profitable? How to engage major corporations? How to guarantee social and environmental sustainability while making money?
Some of the liveliest discussions involved high-profile executives and entrepreneurs, including a panel with Howard Shapiro, chief agricultural officer of Mars Inc.; Bernard Giraud, president of Danone’s Livelihoods Venture, Tristan Lecomte, founder and CEO of the Pur Project; and the noted Indian entrepreneur and sustainable-business advocate Ranjit Barthakur. In breakout sessions, we explored the viability of trees as crops, looked into biofuels as a reliable energy source and discussed quantification of environmental services.
A consistent message was that farmers can’t do it alone, especially if they’re also growing food for their families. Building successful agroforestry systems, requires scientific expertise, business savvy and access to markets, robust policies and infrastructure, and NGO support to advocate for farmers and help with training and facilitation. It’s a team effort, and it takes a lot of resources.
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(published on the website of SIANI, Swedish International Agricultural Network Initiative)