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Great interest, both in India and elsewhere, has been shown in the Gujarat forestry experience involving local participation. In 1982, FAO was requested by the Government of India to support a study of forestry activities in Gujarat. This study Evaluation of the Gujarat Social Forestry Programme, was published in 1985. Although it produced new information, it also pointed out the need for case studies which would examine the dynamics of farm-forestry, as well as the benefits and costs to farmers,and the perception of these costs and benefits of the rural people involved, especially the poor.

The case studies presented in this document were carried out by Dr. Shobhita Jain under the direction of M. Hoskins. In doing the studies, Dr. Jain has analysed some of the questions raised by previous reports through indepth case studies of various social groups in different communities and involved in contrasting forestry schemes. She first places each case study in relation to the market economy. Her findings and insights shed light on the complexities of successful farm forestry and on the danger of generalizing, especially on such issues as trees replacing food crops or conflicts of goals between the forest service and participating farmers.

The success she describes of large-scale farmers includes current efforts to diversify species for a broader market. Small scale farmers, on the other hand, are found to be in need of support services such as market information and assistance in the organization of buying and selling cooperatives.

The success seen in the tribal cooperative movement requires support of NGO and government services. Dr. Jain also raises questions of self help and continuity, in situations in which large-scale outside support is used to produce change.

This is one of a series of case studies produced by the Community Forestry Unit of the Policy and Planning Service of FAO. This series is being developed in order to provide insights into the functioning, dynamics and impacts of various community forestry interventions especially as seen by the rural people themselves. The case study series is being funded by the Swedish International Development Authority.

M.R. de Montalembert

Chief, Policy and Planning Service Forestry Department


1. What Is Farm Forestry?

Farm forestry can be defined as the practice of growing trees on privately owned agricultural land and waste land, including degraded forests. It has been described by the World Bank as "the least costly and economically the most effective approach to afforestation of the rural areas" (World Bank Report, as quoted in CSE Report 1985: 53). If farm forestry can be shown to be economically viable for rural farmers with farms of varying sizes, great gains can be made in afforestation efforts. However, it is yet to be established how the returns from farm forestry compare with incomes from other forms of land use and how the farmers' productive capacity and access to necessary inputs affect the duration of their interest in growing trees. This paper discusses the costs and benefits of farm forestry from the standpoint of its practitioners. It also examines the adoption of farm forestry by both large and small-scale farmers and by landless agricultural labourers including marginal farmers owning unproductive land.

2. Basis of Selection of the Cases Studied

The locations selected for the case studies can in no way be considered random and the number of cases was limited. The information, therefore, should be considered illustrative and conclusions cannot be generalized to all of India or even all of Gujarat. The sites were selected in areas in which there was high participation in farm forestry so effects could be determined. The sites selected were those with an extended period of experience with farm forestry so farmers had had a chance to observe and develop informed views. Case studies were also purposely selected to provide contrasts in the type of institutional support offered to farmers.

2.1 Farmers' Participation in Farm Forestry

In Gujarat, rural populations have been involved in tree planting activities for many years. Three districts, Bhavnagar, Valsad and Kheda, were selected from three areas which, until 1984, accounted for nearly 70 per cent of the total number of seedlings planted under farm forestry. A little over 70 million seedlings (35 per cent of the total number of seedlings distributed), were planted by farmers of Bhavnagar. Farmers in Valsad and Kheda districts received 33 and 30 million seedlings, respectively. Bhavnagar has about 60% of its land under cultivation; Kheda district has more wasteland and is heavily rural, and Valsad, with about 60% of its land under cultivation, has a large population of tribals and landless labourers.

Since 1978-9, the farmers of Bhavnagar and Kheda districts have been involved in tree planting activities on a considerable scale. Their experiences of nearly a decade in growing, harvesting and marketing tree products highlight some of the major problems they have faced in farm forestry. While the tribals of Valsad district officially started farm forestry only in 1982, tribal economy and culture has always been characterised by their involvement with forests and forest products.

Each district has a different system of project management, providing examples of farm forestry on wasteland, including degraded forests. Previous evaluations of Gujarat's social forestry projects have not looked closely at these forms of tree planting activities. They are significant for showing how not only farmers but also landless agricultural labourers and marginal farmers with unproductive land can participate in farm forestry.

2.2 Institutional Support

Non-governmental organisations In some areas of Gujarat have attempted to provide institutional support for long-term improvement in the overall condition of their target-groups by providing access to credit, material inputs and market services. Considerable support is reported to have been given to the farmers in such areas as the Bhavnagar district by the Forest Department (see EGSFP Report 1986: 115). Various types of institutional support provided by the Forest Department have been compared with those of non-governmental organisations in terms of their respective abilities to generate a durable interest in growing trees among the rural people. In some cases these two types of institutions have joined forces.

Both large and small farmers were visited and the cost-benefit ratio of tree planting activities was discussed with them. The experiences of farmers in Jaspara village of Palitana1 Taluka illustrate the possible difficulties that small farmers may face in selling polewood. Farmers in Valsad and Kheda districts had little contact with the Forest Department, but more contact with non-governmental organizations than did farmers in Bhavnagar. In Kheda district, the Behavioural Science Center (BSC) played an important role. In Valsad, it was the Bharatiya Agro-Industries Foundation (BAIF) which had most influence on farm forestry.

3. Commercialisation of Agriculture in Gujarat

In any area where cultivators produce for the market, leading to the commercialisation of agriculture, there are ideal conditions for the adoption of lucrative cash crops. In Gujarat, from the 1850s onwards, the capitalist transformation of agriculture (accelerated by the development of communications) resulted in the formation of a class of capitalist farmers (see Chua 1986). Experience and expertise in procuring and handling cash have existed among Gujarat farmers for more than a century through the cultivation of cash crops such as cotton, tobacco, and groundnut. One calculation estimated that on the first harvest of trees grown in farm forestry, the internal rate of return is 129 per cent, with a calculated increase in this rate to 213 per cent fir successive coppice crops (Gupta 1979: 118). It is therefore not surprising that by 1984 the farmers of Gujarat had planted 195 million seedlings, distributed free of charge by the Forest Department.

3.1 Pattern of Land Use for Cash Crops

The process of change in the pattern of land use from annual food crops to cash crops began in Gujarat long before cash trees crop were planted on farms. Even in 1961 (see Census of India, Gujarat 1961: 78) the state was "substantially deficient in the matter of food-grains" while "in the production of commercial crops like cotton, groundnut and tobacco" It occupied "an important place in the agricultural economy of the country". So the argument of "extensive foodgrains being replaced by Eucalyptus plantations" (CSE Report 1985: 51-2) can not be generalised and must be seen case by case.

According to an estimate by the Chief Conservator of Forests, Ahmedabad, only 5 to 6 per cent of Gujarat farmers have adopted farm forestry; of this number only 0.05 per cent may have replaced food crops by tree crops. In his view, small farmers with less than 2 hectares of land have planted only on the peripheries of their farms, while the middle and larger farmers have opted for block planting.

Available statistics conflict on this point. According to Patel (1984) a study of 7,000 farmers showed that 14 per cent of the land under cash crops and 6.4 per cent of the land under food crops were converted to farm forestry. The EGSFP Report (1986: 128) reveals percentages that were even higher.

3.2 Food Crops as Commodity Production

In view of the considerable trade In foodgrains, one should expect a significant proportion of the cultivation of foodcrops in Gujarat to become commodity production. Presumably, therefore, foodgrains are cultivated not only for subsistence but also for feeding those involved ín growing cash crops. Farmers thus produce and sell on the basis of profit calculus. Even if some farmers decide to replace foodgrains by trees on their farms, this would not necessarily mean a loss of subsistence for their families. It is possible that these farmers have calculated the potential return from trees to be higher than that from surplus foodgrains.

This is not to say that there may not have bee_, any problems of food security in the adoption of farm forestry by small farmers. In general, however, local patterns of land use and commodity production in the agricultural economy of Gujarat, coupled with free distribution of seedlings by the government, have provided a favourable setting for the adoption of tree crops by farmers, especially those who produce for the market.

3.3 Farm forestry for the Market

Farmers in Gujarat have taken to planting trees for the market because the planners' view of social forestry for increasing the "supplies of fuelwood in rural areas" (FAO Report 1985: 13) has found little credibility with them. Blair (1986: 1317-21), analyses the problem of difference in perception between the planners and the practititioners of social forestry projects, but the farmers, including small and marginal farmers, almost all fail to explicitly recognise the need for fuelwood and fodder. Despite receiving considerable supplies of fuelwood, fodder and other tree products for household use from farm forestry, they simply do not count these as tangible benefits. In their eyes, trees have to compete with other cash crops in terms of marketability. This strong orientation towards the market and the cash value of tree products has to be the main theme of any study dealing with farm forestry in rural areas where subsistence farming has now assumed a secondary place in the agricultural sector.

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