Current News Ecology & Environment Survey/Study/Report

Transforming Agrifood Systems with Forests

Recently, a report on deforestation, livestock grazing, and farmer field schools was published by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

FAO has released the report at FAO-Global Landscapes Forum: Transforming agrifood systems with forests.

Key highlights of the Report

  • According to the FAO's Global Forest Resources Assessment 2022, 420 million hectares of forest have been destroyed worldwide over the past 20 years.
    • To reduce deforestation, which reached at 11 million ha per year between 2000 and 2010, forests are essential.
  • The report finds that the amount of food needed to feed the world's population will increase by 50% by 2050 compared to 2012.
  • Crop and animal production will require 165 to 600 million additional hectares of land, the majority of which is already covered by forests and other vital ecosystems.
  • Nearly 90% of global deforestation between 2000 and 2018 was caused by increased agricultural production.
    • This has a detrimental effect on related ecosystem services including biodiversity and carbon sequestration.

Major Recommendations of the Report

  • The need of the hour is to build sustainable global agrifood systems based on the synergies between agriculture and forests that provide a win-win outcome for both sectors.
    • Governments need to pay special attention to smallholder farmers, who produce roughly 35% of the world’s food;
    • But they often live in poverty and cannot afford the costs or interruptions to income incurred through changing the way they work.
  • Properly integrated grazing can play a vital role in restoring degraded land with trees, halting desertification and improving wildfire prevention in drylands.
  • Drylands are home to about 25% of the global population, contain 50% of the world’s livestock, 27% of the world’s forests and are where about 60% of the world’s food production takes place.
  • Silvopastrolism (combining animal grazing and trees) can also help enhance local community’s food security and income by preventing land degradation.
  • As part of an integrated landscape approach utilizing agroforestry, landscape planners and decision-makers should consider livestock as part of the solution and carefully restore open tree cover (when tree cover is between 30 and 70%).
  • Governments worldwide must provide this coordination so that different sectors and stakeholders at all levels – international, national, regional and local – work towards shared goals.
  • Governments should create the legislative frameworks and provide financing and market conditions that favour approaches.

About Agroforestry

  • Agro forestry is a land use system that integrates trees, crops and animals in a way that is scientifically sound.
  • It integrates trees and shrubs on farmlands and rural landscapes to enhance productivity, profitability, diversity and ecosystem sustainability.

Importance of Agroforestry for India

  • Agroforestry meets almost half of the country’s fuelwood needs, about two-thirds of the small timber demand, 70-80% of the plywood requirement, 60% of the raw material for the paper pulp industry, and 9-11% of the green fodder needs.
  • Agroforestry or tree-based farming is an established nature-based activity that can aid carbon-neutral growth.

Government’s Initiatives to improve Agroforestry in India

  • India is the first country to adopt an agroforestry policy - National Agroforestry Policy (NAP) - to promote employment, productivity, and environmental conservation.
  • A tagline: “Har medh par ped” (trees on every field boundary) was launched with nearly ₹1,000 crore in 2016 to transform agroforestry into a national effort.
  • The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare merged the Sub-Mission on Agroforestry (SMAF) with the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana which deprived the agroforestry sector of its flagship implementation arm.