Trees on farms are essential for global production of nutritious food
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Summary of the International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition, held at FAO headquarters, Rome, Italy, 13–15 May 2013'
• The role of trees on farms in the fight against hunger and malnutrition demands much greater attention and should be integrated with strategies for food and nutrition security.
• Nutritious Food security is grounded in diversity – in terms of biota, landscapes, cultures, diets, integrated agriculture and management. Forests and trees are critical for maintaining that diversity.
• The ecosystem services provided by forests and trees make essential contributions to forest dependent communities and integrated agriculture for, among other things, protecting soil and water, maintaining soil fertility, effects of climate change, providing habitat for wild pollinators and the predators of agricultural pests.
• Forest tree products as part of integrated agriculture of the area have been important components of rural nutritious food diets for millennia and today provide essential nutrition for millions of people. More than one-third of the world’s people rely on wood fuel for cooking, fodder for cattle and bio mass as a low cost producer of farm inputs.
• Forests and trees on farms and their sustainable management are crucial for ensuring the resilience of low cost nutritious food-production systems in the face of climate change, economic, social and political instability by ensuring access to the poor rural smallholder producer communities. Forest and trees on integrated farms reduces effect of climate change, cost of production, hunger, malnutrition and poverty whilst improving livelihood, net income and purchasing power based on increased sources of income thus contributing to building resilience.
• There are opportunities to use more forest species, especially plants and insects, for the large scale production of nutritious food. However, deforestation and forest degradation risks the loss of many such species.
• The single biggest cause of forest loss is mono cropping in agricultural expansion, but there is potential for both by following the local integrated agricultural system and protecting forests, including through the restoration of degraded forest land, with the greater use of trees in agriculture, and the alignment of policies and institutional frameworks to that end.
• Secure land and forest tenure and ensure equitable access to public resources for women/ local communities and who will encourage sustainable forest and tree based approaches to nutritious food security.
• There is a need to retrieve, document and make available the traditional knowledge of integrated agriculture as applicable to the soil and climatic conditions of each area and to combine it with scientific knowledge to increase the role of forests and trees in food and nutrition security.
• Women often have specialized knowledge of forests and trees in terms of species diversity for the local integrated agriculture, uses for various purposes, and conservation and sustainable management practices, thus ensuring the food and nutrition security of forest-dependent communities.
• Greater collaboration at the local and national levels is needed to improve data collection, documentation, communication, reporting, monitoring & evaluation of the contributions made by non-wood forest products, forest ecosystem services and other forest and tree related aspects on nutritious food security.
• Training and creating local capacity in the women and youth for management of sustainable forest enterprises can help forest-dependent communities, to add value, increase shelf life of the produce, to minimize post harvest losses and gain access to higher prices, thereby improving livelihood, net income and purchasing power and the food and nutrition security of such communities by helping them to capitalize on their traditional knowledge.
• Governments, civil society, indigenous peoples, bilateral and multilateral development assistance agencies, the producer organisations/ company (PC) and other stakeholders are invited to strengthen the contributions of forests and trees on farms to food and nutrition security through a number of feasible actions, listed in the full summary.
2 As used in this summary, the term “trees outside forests” encompasses agroforestry systems, other trees on farms, and trees in non-forested rural landscapes.
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The FSN Forum is supported by the project Coherent food security responses: incorporating right to food into global and regional food security initiatives.