The word Agroforestry is a combination of two words:
Agro = Agriculture and forestry. It is a part of social forestry programme under which tree plantation is done in private lands around agricultural fields, wasteland of houses in rural areas.
The main objectives of agroforestry are as follows:
(1) To reduce the dependence of farmers on forest for the purpose of firewood, fodder, timber and other products.
(2) To provide extra means for earning money or economic benefits to the farmers.
To make agroforestry programme a success, the state forest departments, Blocks, Panchayants and some private institutions are providing material help such as, the supply of seeds and nurseries of improved important tree species at nominal costs to farmers.
Advantages of Agroforestry:
Agroforestry is advantageous to farmers in several ways as follows:
1. It makes available much needed fuel wood, fodder and other useful plant products to the farmers for their personal use.
2 It increases the income of the farmers.
3. Tree plantation near agricultural fields provides safety to crops from the adverse effects of strong wind, cold waves and heat waves.
4. It helps in the maintenance of fertility and productivity of soil.
5. The money earn by the farmers through agroforestry enables them to repay the debts or loans in short period of time.
6. It provides insurance against natural calamities.
Selection of Trees for Agroforestry:
The farmers select the trees for agroforestry keeping in view their personal needs.
The following points are taken into account while selecting tree species for plantation:
1. Fast growing species:
It is essential that tree species should be fast growing ones so that the plants attain tree size within a short period. The farmers hope to get good monetary return by selling the trees.
2. Multipurpose use of the tree species:
Usually such tree species should be selected for plantation as are having several economic values so that they may fulfill the needs of farmers.
3. Selection of trees as may not affect the light requirement of crops:
For agroforestry such tree species are selected as are sparsely branched and the branches are not dense so that sun light may easily reach the ground and become available to the crop plants growing under or near them.
4. Selection of deeply rooted trees:
The agricultural crops absorb water and solutes from the top layer of soil. Therefore it is desirable that the selected tree species should be such as have roots penetrating quite deep into the soil to absorb nutrients and water from there.
5. Selection of tree species according to soil conditions and climate:
For agroforestry programme such tree species should be selected by the farmers as are well adapted to grow vigorously in particular type of soil and climate of their locality.
6. Easy availability of plant species that checks soil erosion effectively.
Some Important tree species recommended for Agroforestry Programme:
Some of the tree species generally preferred by farmers for Agroforestry are bobool (Acacia catechu) Eucalyptus, Shisham (Dalbergia sissoo), Poplar (Populus alba), Semal (Bombax malabaricurn) Kadamb (Anthocephalus kadamba), Mango (Mangifera indica), Ber (Zizyphus sp.), Mahua (Madhuca indica), Peepal (Ficus religiosa), Gular (Ficus glomerata), Neem, Bel (Aeglemamelos), Saijana (Moringa sp.), Sahtoot (Morus alba), Teak (Tectona grandis), Bamboo etc.
Now the state forest departments, agriculture department. Development Blocks Village Panchayats all over India are making special efforts to promote agroforestry and are providing seeds and nursery of genetically advanced varieties of economically useful tree species to fanners at nominal costs. For extension and expansion of this programme meetings are being organised to make the farmers aware about agroforestry and to highlight the techniques and utility of the programme.