As world population increases, the need for more productive and sustainable use of the land becomes more urgent. According to the United Nations, more than 7 billion people populated the Earth in 2011 and this number is expected to go up to 9.3 billion by the mid-century. To meet the demand for food by 2050, production will have to increase by over 60%. These figures, coupled with current problems borne out of past and existing non-sustainable land use practices, provide the case for changing the way we manage lands and our production of agricultural and tree goods.

Thanks to its multifunctional properties, agroforestry is part of the solution to addressing these issues, whether they be environmental, economic or social. Agroforestry systems include both traditional and modern land-use systems where trees are managed together with crops and/or animal production systems in agricultural settings. They are dynamic, ecologically based, natural resource management systems that diversify and sustain production in order to increase social, economic and environmental benefits for land users at all scales.

There is a growing body of scientific literature that demonstrates the gains accruing from agroforestry adoption. FAO recognizes these advantages and believes agroforestry can contribute to improve the environment and the lives of people. 

Yilou, Burkina Faso. ©FAO/ Renee VanDis


A module on agroforestry was recently added to the Sustainable Forest Management Toolbox. The module provides an overview of agroforestry systems; it also describes how to identify the most appropriate agroforestry system and to design, adapt, establish and manage it. A section on the "enabling environment" is targeted primarily at policymakers, including national and local authorities. To learn more, click here.

FAO Headquarters is currently working on a new agroforestry program to strengthen the policy environment for agroforestry, as well as create new opportunities for stakeholders to upscale agroforestry adoption. We will keep users informed as the program unfolds.

FAO's agroforestry website has been revised to provide you with more information, in a more dynamic format. A great effort has been made to connect all FAO's initiatives related to agroforestry. Let us know what you think!

The Urban/Peri-Urban Forestry and Agroforestry group at FAO Headquarters thanks Dominic Garant for his contribution to our work and wishes him all the best in his future endeavours. Dominic was part of an internship program funded by the government of Québec, in Canada, which seeks to provide young professionals with an experience in an international organization. He helped us in policy program formulation, translation of documents and analysis of agroforestry policies. To learn more about internship or volunteering opportunities, click here.

Update from the field

Interview with: Alberto Bigi
From the project: Climate-smart agroforestry systems for the Dry Corridor of Central America

Which countries are involved in the project?

FAO is currently implementing this project in Guatemala and Honduras with the support of the sub-regional office for Mesoamerica in Panamá.

The so-called “Dry Corridor” is a drought-prone area which covers part of the pacific side of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama. People living in this territory are family farmers depending on low input agriculture (and weather) for their livelihoods thus very vulnerable to climatic shocks.

Click on the questions below to learn more.

What benefits are expected to be achieved?

The program has two main objectives:

1. To improve the knowledge and awareness of the local, national and regional civil society and government institutions as to the importance of climate-smart agroforestry systems in public policies.

2. To enhance the sustainable productivity and conservation of soil and water through the use of agroforestry systems and technologies that reduce wood consumption and   increase water availability.

What kind of agroforestry systems are being implemented or improved?

The agroforestry systems promoted through the project have proven to be good options to increase productivity, improve soil and water conservation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These agroforestry systems constitute a transformation from the traditional slash-and-burn method of farming to an integrated production system that allow farmers to control soil erosion and water retention through growing of staple crops interspersed with native trees.

The main pillars of both systems are:

     1. Integration of tree-crop species in the farm management system;
     2. Avoiding the use of fire to clean up the land;
     3. Use of mulching and minimum tillage;
     4. Use of good quality seeds sown at adequate planting distance.

In Guatemala, it is called Kuxur Rum; which is a traditional system which combines staple crops with trees, such as Gliricidia sepium, the Madre cacao. The technique consists in letting the stubbles of the crops, resulting in mulch. Together with the trees, this practice helps restore and maintain soil humidity and fertility. To learn more on the Kuxur Rum.

In Honduras, it is called Quesungal, which involves annual crops, maize, beans and sorghum for example, with trees. It uses a slash and mulch technique, with no burning, and the yearly thinning and pruning of the trees and vegetation to ensure adequate light for the crops. It seeks, among other functions, to improve soil water retention and decrease erosion. To learn more on the Quesungal.

How many people participate in the project?

800 households will benefit directly from the program (400 Guatemala and 400 in Honduras). At least more than 55% of participants are expected to be women.

Picture gallery
Collecting seeds of Madre cacao
Guatemala ©FAO Guatemala
  Exchange of experience
Guatemala ©FAO Guatemala 


Capacity building for women
Guatemala ©FAO Guatemala




Agroforestry in Honduras
Honduras ©FAO Honduras

  Agroforestry in Honduras
Honduras ©FAO Honduras


Stone land barriers
Honduras ©FAO Honduras



last updated:  Thursday, September 8, 2016