The missing link in agroforestry business chain

We need to combine the science of discovery and the science of delivery: Simons. Photo by Ram Singh/ICRAF

We need to combine the science of discovery and the science of delivery: Simons.
Photo by Ram Singh/ICRAF

Scientists, farmers, donors, policy makers and marketers of agroforestry products are working in isolated groups, making it difficult to complete the value chain, according to experts at the ongoing World Congress on Agroforestry in Delhi, India.

In one of the sessions to discuss the role of business in accelerating the impacts of agroforestry, Bernard Giraud, the president of Livelihood Ventures, a mutual fund with the global food company Danone and other investors,said that there is need for agroforestry researchers to have sound working relationship with governments, farmers and development partners.

His sentiments were echoed by Shri Krishna Byre Gowda, the minister of agriculture in Karnataka state in South West India.  “As a policy maker, it is good to admit that we have failed in bridging the gap between the researchers and farmers,” he told the forum.

He observed that researchers have already developed solutions to some of the existing problems, but many governments have ignored the researchers, thinking that they (governments) have the capacity to do everything for the farmers

“We have left it for the companies to take the poor farmers for a ride,” he lamented.

According to Giraud, one way of interesting farmers in agroforestry business is by creating a business-oriented environment. “The best way to stimulate the farmers’ interests is by creating projects that are able to reward the results, and research that is closer to the people,” he said. “We need the farmers to own the research being done on the ground,” he stated.

Giraud’s organization’s mission is to support the efforts of agricultural and rural communities to live in sustainable ecosystems which serve as the foundation of their food security and provide the resources that ensure their sustainability.

The experts pointed out that several researches have been done, but governments have implemented some of them in blanket form. “That is wrong. We must understand that as much as technologies are developed, some challenges are specific. So, solutions do not address all the challenges uniformly,” said the Indian legislator.

According to Tony Simons, the director general of the World Agroforestry Centre, agroforestry is the best way to build a sustainable future. “We need to think big and act big. We need to combine the science of discovery and the science of delivery. We need to be performance based,” he told the Congress.

The experts at the forum observed that one of the entry points is working with farmer groups instead of targeting individual farmers, in order to create an agroforestry business environment.

By Isaiah Esipisu

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Vigyan Bhavan & Kempinski Ambience

10 - 14 February 2014 Delhi, India
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