Agroforestry: Needs and practices for adoption in Pakistan
Ehsan Raza Asif1*, Sajid Hussain2, Moeen Ijaz1, Nadia Niaz3,
1 Institute of Soil and Environmental Sciences, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad
2 Department of Agronomy, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad
3 Department of Food Technology, PMAS, Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi
*Corresponding Author e-mail: [email protected]
Trees and crops are cultivated in combination for centuries throughout the world. In many parts of the world trees and the traditional crops are grown on a single piece of land. Trees play a key role in all terrestrial ecosystems and provides several products and services to the human community throughout the world. Agroforestry is defined as a sustainable management system for land that increases overall production, combines agricultural crops, tree crops and forest plants and/or animals simultaneously applies management practices that are compatible with cultural patterns of local population. Agroforestry is a natural system which ensure the protection of soil and environment on sustainable basis. A perfect definition to agroforestry should necessarily comprises:
- In any form or sequence woody perennials should be grown on the same piece of land with traditional crops/animals.
- There must be a connection (either positive or negative) between the woody and nonwoody components of the system, either ecological or economical.
All agroforestry definitions implies that it involves:
- Two or more than two biotic species (plants or animals) which must comprises at least one woody perennial.
- At least more than one year lifecycle and ecologically and economically more complex than a mono cropping system.
In Europe until the Middle Ages it was a common practice to grow the trees in agricultural lands with traditional crops. In few areas of Germany it was practiced around 1920s. In Africa, southern Nigerians grow their crops under a cover of scattered trees. In Asia, hanunoo farming system provided a new concept of shifting cultivation which preserved the forest and land farm degradation. In Pakistan fodder and cereal crops are grown in combination with mango, guava and citrus orchards. Pakistan and particularly Punjab province have little forest resources. According to Pakistan national conservation strategy report 2006, total forests resources of Pakistan are 4.2 million hectares at which about 152.53 million population is dependent for its wood and wood products requirements. According to this estimate per capita forest area is only 0.0265 ha as compared to world average of 1 ha. This difference is further increased due to increased population of Pakistan while forest are cleared to meet the increasing demand of wood, fuel, agricultural implements and raw material required in wood based industries. According to critical estimates about 90% of the fuel wood and 72% of the timber requirements are met from trees grown on private landforms which are mainly based on agroforestry/social forestry/community forestry as compared to state forests.
According to FAO’s report 2011 only 2% area of Pakistan is under forest cover so agroforestry is a best option to increase area under tree plantation without decreasing area for traditional cultivation. From the 22.15 million ha of total cultivated land only 2% is under tree cover which can be easily increased to 10%.
Agroforestry is a reliable technique for the sustainability of land in low fertility or when soil is sensitive to erosion. Trees and shrubs play key ecological and economical role in this type of farming system. Agroforestry have advantages like:
- Protects the soil from erosion, increase its nutrient status and improves its structure.
- Provides cheap source of energy like fuelwood, which is relatively accessible and of better quality depending on plant species.
- Planted trees also provide cheap building material, habitat for animals and also provide fencing to protect the crop from livestock, wind and wild animals.
- Planted tree species increase which maintains plant resources/biodiversity of the area and also improves the environmental conditions of the country.
- It also have economic importance by providing offseason employment, sale of the tree products and a reliable source of investment in the agribusiness sector.
Like any other cropping system agroforestry is also classified into spatial and temporal arrangements of the components on the basis of objectives of the farming community i.e. structural, functional, socioeconomic and ecological.
Several systems and practices are included in agroforestry to improve its efficiency on scientific basis which includes:
- Silvo-pasture: In silvopasture trees, forages and livestock are managed together. Trees provide shade to livestock and also have economic value.
- Improved fallows: It is rotational system which is based on the replacement of natural fallow vegetation by the introduction of selected trees or shrubs.
- Taungya system: “Tounga” is derived from hills and “Ya” from cultivation. In taungya system commonly annual agricultural crops are grown with forest species during early years of establishment of forest plantation. Farmers grow crops in this land and take its produce until forest canopy enlarge at a level which makes traditional cropping impossible.
- Plantation crop combination: In this system trees are grown in the fields while crops are grown alongside or underneath. Tree species can be maintained either by managing existing trees or by planting new trees.
- Home garden: In this system perennial crops are grown side by side with annual crops, usually animals are also included in this system.
- Allay farming: According to this system woody plants (trees and shrubs) are grown in rows with annual crops which are grown in alleys in between.
- Planting on terraces: In hilly areas which have slopes, terraces are built by digging ditches and making ridges along the slope. Trees, shrubs and grasses are planted at the ridges of such terraces. Along with the stabilization of the slope it provides better environment and shelter from the wind for growing crops.
- Shelterbelts: Trees and shrubs are planted as a living barriers in a systematic way to reduce the wind speed for the protection of agricultural lands, people, animal and building.
Agroforestry is a better option to grow trees, increase forest cover without reserving land for forests. It is a source of employment for local community, increase farmer income and improves environmental condition of both area and country. It can fulfill wood requirement of the country for furniture, timber and fuel purposes. Forage produced by trees can be used as replacement for traditional fodder which will encourage rearing of animals. Agroforestry have no or little effect on traditional crops while income generated from them is high with limited inputs. It can preserve soil cover from erosion, protect it from erosion and can increase soil fertility status. This system should be adopted more especially in barren land where vegetation is not economical. By increasing soil fertility status, crops between the trees will be possible to cultivate, so barren land is recovered. Pakistan have a lot of barren land so agroforestry is suitable in those areas. By increasing awareness of agroforestry, not only income of farmer will improve but also it will improve climatic condition of that area and conserve that soil.