, Volume 61-62, Issue 1-3, pp 437-452

Agroforestry research for development in India: 25 years of experiences of a national program

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Abstract

India has been in the forefront of agroforestry research ever since organized research in agroforestry started worldwide about 25 years ago. Considering the country's unique land-use, demographic, political, and sociocultural characteristics as well as its strong record in agricultural and forestry research, India's experience in agroforestry research is important to agroforestry development, especially in developing nations. Agroforestry has received much attention in India from researchers, policymakers and others for its perceived ability to contribute significantly to economic growth, poverty alleviation and environmental quality, so that today agroforestry is an important part of the ‘evergreen revolution’ movement in the country. Twenty-five years of investments in research have clearly demonstrated the potential of agroforestry in many parts of the country, and some practices have been widely adopted. But the vast potential remains largely underexploited, and many technologies have not been widely adopted. This situation is a result of the interplay of several complex factors. The understanding of the biophysical issues related to productivity, water-resource sharing, soil fertility, and plant interactions in mixed communities is incomplete and insufficient, mainly because research has mostly been observational in nature rather than process oriented. Methods to value and assess the social, cultural and economic benefits of various tangible and nontangible benefits of agroforestry are not available, and the socioeconomic processes involved in the success and failure of agroforestry have not been investigated. On the other hand, the success stories of wasteland reclamation, and poplar-based agroforestry show that the technologies are widely adopted when their scientific principles are understood and socioeconomic benefits are convincing. An examination of the impact of agroforestry technology generation and adoption in different parts of the country highlights the major role of smallholders as agroforestry producers of the future. It is crucial that progressive legal and institutional policies are created to eschew the historical dichotomy between agriculture and forestry and encourage integrated land-use systems. Government policies hold the key to agroforestry adoption.

This revised version was published online in June 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.