Agroforestry, multi cropping help farmers adapt in India's climate sensitive regions

Bundelkhand (Madhya Pradesh), June 25 (ANI): Salim Khan, a small farmer in the Bundelkhand region of Central India woke up one winter morning in the end of January 2013 and saw his entire field covered in frost.

"All these crops got spoilt because of the frost. This is the first time in my life that I have seen this kind of frost."

If Salim Khan had been practicing mono cropping like most farmers do, his losses would have been a lot more severe. Sustainable farming practices of agro forestry and multi cropping have given him security from adverse climatic conditions by spreading his risk. His fields still have many healthy crops and trees despite some of his produce getting adversely affected by the heavy frost.

Agroforestry is a land use system in which woody perennials like trees and shrubs are grown along with crops thus reducing dependency on one crop variety. Dr. Ram Newaj, a scientist working at the National Research Centre for Agroforestry in Jhansi says, "Diversification is a key adaptation strategy for farmers living in climate sensitive areas. The trees provide the farmers with yields of fruit, fuel, fodder and medicinal products increasing their livelihood opportunities."

Farmer Dhani Ram Kushwaha says, "Growing fruit trees like guava and gooseberry along with multi cropping has helped me increase my profits by three times."

The integrated model of agroforestry also addresses the problem of deforestation by conserving soil and water. Dr.Prithvi Pal, an agricultural scientist says, "The roots of the trees help in binding the soil which results in reducing water run-off thus enhancing water retention in the soil. Presence of trees in the fields also improves the soil carbon content."

Sustainable practices of agroforestry and multi cropping have a huge potential in strengthening agrarian livelihoods, improving food and nutritional security and increasing resilience of rural communities in the face of change. By Neelam Ahluwalia, Development Alternatives (ANI)


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