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Industry and agroforestry

J.L. Whitmore and Bruce Burwell

J.L. Whitmore is with the International Forestry Staff. USDA Forest Service. Washington, DC., and is Coordinator of the IUFRO Working Party on Silviculture of Plantation Forestry in Latin America. Bruce Burwell is an independent consultant based in Seattle, and has worked in a variety of Asian, African and/Akin American countries.

A SUCCESSFUL PROJECT IN THE PHILIPPINES industry and agroforestry can harmonize

As the people-land ratio grows, multiple-use techniques are needed to increase land-use outputs. One of the more promising tools to maximize outputs is generically termed "agroforestry". Growing trees in combination with crops or animals has been practiced by farmers for thousands of years. Agroforestry was attempted by foresters over 100 years ago as a forestry and food production technique in Burma. This led to refined agroforestry practices in nations around the world. As agroforestry continues to develop as an applied science, it will find newer and newer applications. One of these, somewhat surprisingly, is the juxtaposition of agriculture and industrial forestry.

Agroforestry at three levels

Agroforestry techniques generally operate at one of three levels. The first level, and the one currently receiving most attention internationally, is agroforestry practiced by small farmers with the purpose of satisfying family or village-level needs. This may simply refer to one or two single-purpose eucalypts growing in the garden to supply part of the family's fuelwood needs or to half a hectare of Leucaena, a few of which are cut whenever a neighbour wants to pay or barter for some firewood. A relatively secure land tenure and tree tenure system is one of the best incentives for this level of agroforestry.

The second level of agroforestry (AF) is that promoted by local governments, usually on a fairly large scale. Taungya in its several modified forms is typical, whereby rural people are given incentives to plant trees along with their crops and care for them. At the end of 2-4 years, when the trees are well established and the crops begin to fail because of weed competition, soil nutrient depletion and shade from the trees, people are relocated to a new site and the land is allowed to go into fallow. Ideally the fallow period lasts until the trees are at the optimum point of maturity. They are then harvested and a new taungya rotation begins. The land and trees may belong to the people doing the work, but generally this is not so. Stability in tree and land tenure is provided by the local government.

This level of AF will fail with insufficient incentives or where the population-land ratio is too low or too high. When it is too low, farmers have enough free land to support themselves without a formal, government-operated system. When it is too high, fallow periods are necessarily too short for the land to recover and for the trees to reach optimum size for commerce or local use.

The third level of agroforestry has received very little attention in the literature, but is a highly promising technique. It consists of large-scale AF efforts, usually by the private sector. It is aimed at maximizing outputs (profits) on an industrial scale by the production of wood in combination with crops or livestock on a given piece of land. It may or may not have goals directed toward the benefit of local rural populations. It usually requires a secure land tenure system, the land being either owned outright by a large company or held in the form of a concession or a long-term lease. It may, however, also succeed under small ownership tenure patterns. This level of agroforestry is applicable to temperate as well as to tropical zones. Indeed, a form of AF has been proposed for the pine forests of the southern United States (Woods and Ostermeier, 1985; Hunter, Smith and Kronrad, 1984; Byrd, Lewis and Pearson, 1984). Other temperate zone examples will be noted below.

This industrial level of AF can make large-scale reforestation much more practical in economic terms. A wood-producing company can often repay its reforestation costs within 25 years by producing maize, sorghum or other crops among the newly planted tree seedlings rather than suffering interest costs over the entire rotation. Such a scheme can make the use of higher-quality sites, fertilized trees, mechanized tree farming and shorter rotations economically feasible. Establishment costs (especially the associated interest charges) are minimized, site maintenance costs are greatly reduced, and site productivity is maximized.

There are several variations which can be applied. If, locally, there are underemployed farmers or if there is a land shortage, a cooperative venture would serve to meet the needs of rural people in addition to producing forest products on a large scale. Such a venture would use local labour through a variety of incentives instead of using mechanized, labour-saving techniques. If the local population raises livestock, fodder production may become part of the operation. If land-ownership patterns are typified by small, unproductive farms and the private company interested in wood to harvest has insufficient or no land, it may be feasible for the company and the small landowners to work together to produce the wood, food and fuel needed by all concerned.

Vergara's recent article (1985) on agroforestry concluded that, because industrial firms with forestry projects in developing countries do little to satisfy the needs of rural populations, "forestry practice should be converted from industrial forestry to village or community forestry". There can be no doubt that industrial forestry operations in developing nations have often overlooked the needs of those people living in or near the forest. Lack of involvement of these people has often been directly related to failure of such projects: people who feel left out, uninvolved, forgotten or exploited can hardly be expected to cooperate.

Conversion from industrial forestry to village or community forestry may well be the best option in some situations, but there is another option to consider. Indeed, some large industrial concerns have been modifying their approach to use industrial agroforestry as a technique to work in partnership with rural populations. Other companies have employed industrial agroforestry techniques on their own, presumably in some degree of harmony with local populations but without their direct participation. In a wide variety of socioeconomic situations, industrial AF presents an opportunity for a company to make a solid contribution to the needs of local people, and a profit from industrial production at the same time.

Most of the local farmers camped on the site to tend their crop; they also acted as on-site caretakers to deter stray animals from entering the area.

Examples of industrial agroforestry

Crecex-Chile Agroforestry is not often thought of as being practiced in temperate zones, possibly because temperate crops are grown mostly as monocultures that can often be mechanized. However, there have been - and in some countries, still are - examples of agroforestry practices in temperate climates. Indeed, industrial agroforestry may be as applicable to temperate climates as to tropical ones, or even more so.

A case in point is a system used in Chile in 1981 on the El Tollo Tree Farm of Crecex-Georgia Pacific Ltd, located in the coastal range of southern Chile near Quirihue. The system is a traditional one that probably evolved from slash-and-burn practices.

On the El Tollo Tree Farm a 20-22-year-old stand of Monterey pine (Pinus radiata) was harvested over an area of approximately 300 ha. Local farmers who were interested in planting wheat on the cut-over area were recruited. These farmers helped with the slash burning and then selected their individual plots within the 300-ha area. They ploughed the plots with a team of oxen and at the same time burned slash that had been missed in the initial burn. Large pieces of slash were turned perpendicular to the slope to facilitate ploughing: this also helped to reduce soil erosion. After the ploughing, wheat was sown. Seedlings of Monterey pine from the tree farm's nursery were then planted at 2 x 2 m spacing. Most of the local farmers camped on the site to tend their crop; they also acted as on-site caretakers to deter stray animals from entering the area. The wheat was harvested by hand in the autumn and the tree seedlings were left to continue growing. Although this system was employed for one season only, it could have been continued through a second, and possibly a third season. However, the company discontinued managing the site as well as other planting projects elsewhere because of weakened market conditions.

The system has many advantages. Farmers are comfortable with it as a system (appropriate technology). Because of the very high yields that result from planting wheat on land that has been 20 years in fallow, they are eager to participate. To the industrial tree farmer there is not only the advantage of free labour, but also of protection that would probably otherwise be effected only at extra expense. There is also closer relation between the local farmers and the tree farmers who "grow their crops together". One final advantage of the system is that it puts land to good use, providing not only a means of reforestation, but also helping to raise local incomes and to increase food production.

The only disadvantage that might be considered is the competition of the wheat and the tree seedlings for nutrients and soil moisture. However, in an area such as El Tollo with over 1800 mm of rainfall per year and on land that has lain fallow for 20 years, this should be of only minor consequence.

WIMCO-India WIMCO Ltd also operates in a temperate zone - at locations both in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere in northern India. The company raises fast-growing poplars as raw material for its mills, which produce matches, veneer, pulp and paper, fuel, lumber, pencils, packaging, joinery and light furniture. Having worked with farmers in the low- and medium-income groups for about ten years, WIMCO has been motivating landowners to plant poplars with wheat, lentils, sugar cane, potatoes and a wide variety of other crops. Once the trees are mature (in the eighth year), WIMCO buys the tree crop from the farmer at the market rate or at a predetermined price (whichever is greater). Through an extension programme the company supplies clonal planting stock and advises farmers as to how many rupees per hectare per year can be earned under different crop/tree combinations. There are periodic visits by specialists who offer advice on planting and proper plantation maintenance. WIMCO also carries out an ongoing tree improvement effort, continuously introducing new varieties or provenances for testing. Trees are bred for narrow crowns and early leaf-fall to facilitate capture of sunlight by crops. This type of cooperation with local landowners has generated an immense amount of good will for the company and has significantly increased the income level of local farmers.

The company supplies clonal planting stock and advises farmers as to how many rupees per hectare per year can be earned under different crop/tree combinations.


PICOP-Philippines On the tropical island of Mindanao, the Paper Industries Corporation of the Philippines (PICOP), in addition to company plantations, has arrangements with about 5300 farmers who have planted some 20000 ha of Albizia falcataria. PICOP supplies seedlings at cost, payable at harvest time, and provides technical advice. The company guarantees to purchase all the wood produced at prices that are competitive at the time of harvest.

Lands within 100 km of the mill are eligible for this rather unusual AF scheme. Farmers are in need of land to plant their crops. The company offers them land on the PICOP concession, with ten parcels of land for each family. One parcel is planted to trees each year and one is harvested each year, with a 9-year rotation. The tenth parcel is used to grow food crops for the farming family. Each of the ten parcels is planted in rotation to crops, then to trees, every ten years. There is also the option of growing crops among the trees during the first year of the rotation. The harvested wood is used as mechanical and thermomechanical pulp.

Jari-Brazil In the Amazon Basin less than one degree south of the equator, the Jari Florestal e Celulosa Company conducts a massive tree plantation-agriculture-pulp mill operation. The site receives 2200 mm of rainfall per year, is 250 m above sea-level at the highest point and originally had tall tropical hardwood forest and very few local inhabitants. The first step of the operation involves logging the natural forest for merchantable timber. Most of the remaining trees are used as fuel for the mill. The site is then burned and planted to either Gmelina arborea, Eucalyptus deglupta, E. urophylla or Pinus caribaea var. hondurensis, depending on soil properties. This is a rare example of cutting the natural forest in order to plant trees, a practice not normally recommended, given the vast area of deforested land already available.

At Jari, various food crops have been and/or are still being planted in conjunction with plantations of these four tree species. On sandy pine sites, grasses or manioc have been sown. Maize and beans have been grown concurrently with Gmelina and eucalypt seedlings on sedimentary clay soils. On Devonian clay soils, maize, beans and manioc have been grown between Gmelina seedlings. The grass (about 20000 ha) is used for grazing some 6000 head of cattle and the manioc and maize are fed to the company's swine herd, which varies from 1000 to 4000 animals. Maize yields are about 500 kg/ha without fertilizer.

Since the company operates in a zone where few people live and yet requires a large supply of labour, workers had to be brought in from other regions. This requires a food supply which is largely being met by company efforts. Large-scale AF is the technique by which Jari maintains its labour supply. This may or may not reduce site maintenance costs on the company's vast tree plantations, depending on soils and the number of livestock per ha (too many will damage the trees, too few will allow greater weed growth), but it certainly makes for a more efficient use of the site.

A wood-producing company can often repay its reforestation costs within 2-5 years by producing maize, sorghum or other crops among the newly planted tree seedlings.


Celulosa Argentina-Argentina Celulosa Argentina has been engaged in tree planting, mostly Pinus taeda and P. elliottii, in Misiones, Argentina, for many years. On some of these plantations the company has practiced mechanized farming, with maize and other crops grown among the pine seedlings during the early years of the rotation. The landscape is rather flat and the alluvial soils are excellent for agricultural as well as for silvicultural activity in this temperate zone area. The advantages and disadvantages and the silvicultural techniques required have been described in some detail by Cozzo (1982).

Celulosa Argentina-Argentina

La Fosforera-Chile The company known in Chile as La Fosforera (Compañía Chilena de Fósforos) produces matches, wood-based housing and other wood products. It operates its plantations of poplar for a raw material source. These plantations are located on excellent agricultural sites, with fertilization and irrigation used to improve growth rates. The trees are grown in association with cattle, which graze beneath the trees during the rotation and feed on the tree foliage after the trees are felled. Like WIMCO in India, La Fosforera is associated with the transnational Swedish Match Corporation and uses its global connections for tree improvement purposes. New poplar varieties are brought in from around the world for improved production or to develop other traits deemed desirable. An article by Ragonese and Giocchini (1981) describes similar efforts by several Argentine companies to combine poplar cultivation with livestock production.

Ion Exchange-India Agroforestry is the main activity of Ion Exchange (India) Ltd, which can be described as an integrated agroforestry operation. The company proposed to reduce unemployment by planting trees on degraded sites - trees which reduce erosion and improve watershed properties and agricultural productivity as well as provide raw materials. The raw materials are used for forage, fuel and poles, and will lead to such activities as apiculture, sericulture, rabbit farming and the culture of mushrooms, earthworms and fish, as well as a wide variety of other commercial enterprises. The company is quite new and has concentrated so far mainly on research to make all of this feasible. One result has been the publication of a recent article by Ranganathan (1984).

The approach is novel and may lead the way for similar efforts in other countries. If it works in the warm temperate zones of India, it may well offer promise in other such areas. Whether this young company succeeds or fails, the techniques proposed should be carefully examined.

BURNT-OVER AREA IN CHILE restoration by farmers and industry

Fiat Lux-Brazil On the temperate zone lands of Empresa Fiat Lux in Imbituva, Paraná, an experiment was established to test the use of a Pinus elliottii plantation for pasture. On a 4-year-old, 84-ha plantation, with 3 x 3 m spacing, cattle were introduced. The animals spent their winters in a nearby natural forest and the rest of the year in the pine plantation. After 23 months, there were no negative effects measured on the pines. Although the soil was somewhat compacted by the animals, the comparison of pastures vs. non-pastured plots showed tree growth and survival to be the same. During a 3-year period, over 100 trend of cattle were sold. Which greatly increased the cost-effectiveness of the pine plantation. At the same time, four species of pasture grass were tested under four levels of pine-shade intensity (FAO, 1984).

This kind of research is needed to advance the practice of industrial AF. The private sector will probably do its own research to resolve localized problems, but public sector research, extension work and incentives programmes would do a great deal to promote and encourage wider use of these land-use maximization techniques.

All the companies mentioned above have been faced with problems that hindered production. Most of these have been problems that could be managed, reduced or resolved. One of the advantages of this level of AF is that industrialists are accustomed to resolving problems and engaging in efforts that pay their own way. Most private enterprises are quite good at this; those which are not soon disappear.

Throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America there are many other examples of industrial AF practice. The few examples described above are certainly not all-inclusive. Since many industrial AF projects are socio-economic successes it is strange that the literature offers so little information on the subject. The authors hope that this brief article will stimulate interest, activity, research and information transfer on the subject.

Predicted future trends

· Conversion of forests to other land uses will no doubt continue, at disastrous rates in some areas (Sahel-style), and at controllable rates in others. Whether such conversions are controlled or not depends largely on factors such as fast remedial action, national will, local commitment, technology transfer/international cooperation and incentives. Funding is an important limiting factor, but these other factors are much more important. A great deal can be done at low cost if the other factors are present.

· Agroforestry activity will increase at all three levels, as will technology transfer and extension efforts to promote it.

· Worldwide there will be far more tree-planting projects than at present and each of them should be considered a possible opportunity for agroforestry. The private sector will often find large-scale planting projects more cost-effective if industrial agroforestry techniques are employed.

· Applied agroforestry research will increase as problems occur. The most successful AF research projects will be tied to large-scale plantation projects for reasons of economy.

· Incentives programmes to promote AF will be common from both the public and private sectors. These will be of several types but will mainly involve the incentives of increased profits and lowered labour costs, as well as public sector offers of tax incentives and free or at-cost seedling stocks.

· Finally, there will be breakthroughs in systems for managing the natural forests of the tropics, both humid or dry. Once natural forest is managed successfully for sustained yields of a variety of products there will be less tendency to destroy such forests and convert them to other land uses. However, there will still be a need to complement natural forest management with plantations on adjacent sites for intensive, high-yield management. Plantation management will be all the more successful when combined with agroforestry techniques wherever appropriate.


BYRD, N., LEWIS, C. & PEARSON, H. 1984, Management of Southern pine forests for cattle production. General Report R8-GR-4. USDA-Forest Service, Southern Region.

COZZO, D. 1982, Notas sobre una tecnología agroforestal de interés para la provincia de Misiones, Argentina; las plantaciones arbóreas en alineación intercaladas con cultivos agrícolas. Turrialba, Costa Rica, INFORAT. CATIE.

FAO. 1984, Sistemas agroforestales en América Latina y el Caribe. Oficina Regional de la FAO pare América Latina y el Caribe, Santiago.

HUNTER, L., SMITH, M. & KRONRAD, G. 1984, Agroforestry: agriculture and silviculture combined. In National Woodlands, 7 (6): 11-12.

RAGONESE, A. & GIOCCHINI, R. 1981, Alamedas asociadas con cultivos herbáceos y/o ganadería en la región Pampeana. In Revista Asociación Forestal Argentina, XXV (dic.): 8-17.

RANGANATHAN, S. 1984, Role of industries in agroforestry development. In Economic and Political Weekly, 19 (12): 530-552.

VERGARA, N. 1985, Agroforestry systems: a primer. In Unasylva, 37 (147): 22-28.

WOODS, F. & OSTERMEIER, D. 1985, Agroforestry: a lesson from the Third World. In The Futurist, XIX (4): 24-26.

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