Agroforestry: Why don’t farmers plant more trees?
This blog by CIFOR focuses around the question: why isn’t every farmer planting trees? Agroforestry – growing trees around food crops – has proven to cultivate more diverse, productive and profitable crops, helps protect the environment by preventing soil erosion and gives financial benefits. Based on a study in Indonesia and Bangladesh published in the Journal of Environmental Management, the writer sets out the main reasons farmer resist agroforestry and opportunities for adoption of agroforestry. The first reason of farmer resistance is a lack of motivation due to stems from tenure insecurity. Since lands are government-owned, locals don’t make long-term investments since they face management risks and receive low financial rewards. Furthermore, farmers face changing crop cultivation traditions with resistance. The second, more important, issue is the lack of capacity of knowledge, technical assistance and capital. Government policy should consider a flexible credit system, agroforestry markets need assistance in their development and effective extension services should be supported. Furthermore, full know-how and understanding of tree-based farming benefits might help motivate farmers to pursue agroforestry approaches. Moreover, local authorities and powerful local actors can play key roles in the adoption of agroforestry since they influence choices of smallholder farmers. Community institutions can also contribute to increased adopting by synergizing with programs that benefit the community. Vital is also that local people are involved in helping the government understand exactly what their communities needs. By incorporating trees and agricultural practices, it takes a landscape approach to improving local livelihoods while mitigating environmental damage. For this, government initiatives and community participations through improved land tenure security and strengthened capacity need to be increased.