Agroforestry is practiced in both tropical and temperate regions where it produces food and fiber, contributes to food and nutrition security, sustains livelihoods, alleviates poverty and promotes productive and resilient cropping and grassland environments. Agroforestry systems may also enhance biodiversity, cleaner water and less erosion. In addition, when strategically applied on a large scale, agroforestry enables agricultural lands to withstand weather events, such as floods and drought, and climate change. It is an essential element of the green and sustainable economy, in rural, urban and peri-urban environments.
Even though these benefits justify increased investment in the development of agroforestry systems, the sector is disadvantaged by adverse policies, legal constraints and lack of coordination between the governmental sectors to which it contributes, namely, agriculture, forestry, rural development, environment and trade. It has not been sufficiently addressed in policy formulation nor has it been integrated into land-use planning and rural development programmes. Thus the potential of agroforestry to enrich farmers, communities and by extension, national economies, has not been fully exploited.
There is now general agreement about the magnitude and scale of the integration of trees into agricultural lands and their active management by farmers and pastoralists. Zomer et al. (2009) conducted a global assessment of tree cover on agricultural land and found that 48% of all agricultural land had at least 10% tree cover. (Source: Frank Place, Oluyede C. Ajayi, Emmanuel Torquebiau, Guillermo Detlefsen, Michelle Gauthier and Gérard Buttoud. 2012. Improved policies for facilitating the adoption of agroforestry . In Intech “Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services - Science and Practice”, Intech, April 04, 2012: chapter 6, p. 113 - 128.