In a news release by FAO on Tuesday the significance of agroforestry to escape poverty, hunger and environmental degradation has been highlighted. It laments the lack of adequate policy measures and efforts by Governments to promote agroforesty that incorporates an integrated approach combining trees with crop or livestock production contributing towards food and nutrition security.
"Despite the numerous benefits of agroforestry, the sector is largely hampered by adverse policies, legal constraints and lack of coordination between sectors to which it contributes, such as agriculture, forestry, rural development, enviroment and trade." said Mr. Eduardo Mansur, Director of FAO's Forest Assessment, Management and Conservation Division.
Even though millions of rural poor depend on forests and agroforestry practices to grow food grain, fruits and other produce, there is a lack of policy and programmes that promote such practicies. In India there is a National Horticulture Mission that promotes orchards and vegetable production. The Agriculture department also promotes different cereals, pulses and oilseeds through field demonstrations, subsidised seeds and fertiliser. But I am yet to come across a national programme on promoting agroforestry in a large scale. As far as my knowledge goes, the role of the Forest Department is restricted to the managment of the forest resources (timber, other forest produce, wildlife) and generation of revenue for the Government.
Through the Forest Rights Act, 2006 the claims of (primarily) tribal communities over forest land is being recognised in the country. However there have been issues related to tardy implementation and huge backlogs. Moreover wherever communities have received thier claims efforts to integrate with other programmes have been far between and without direction. I presume it becomes easier to implement single-track programmes as against programmes that require co-ordination and convergence between different stakeholders.