Agroforestry Systems as Alternative Land-Use Options in the Arid Zone of Thal, Pakistan

Khan, M. et al., 2017. Small-scale Forestry

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Agroforestry offers unique opportunities for increasing biodiversity, preventing land degradation, and alleviating poverty, particularly in developing countries, but factors explaining the adoption by farmers are not well understood. A survey of 524 farm households was conducted in Bhakkar district of Punjab, Pakistan to study factors that determine the adoption of agroforestry on the sand dunes in the resource-deficient region of Thal. Two types of agroforestry systems were studied: intercropping and border cropping (also known as boundary or perimeter planting). Both agroforestry systems included irrigated cultivation of the timber trees Eucalyptus camaldulensis (local name: sufeda) and Tamarix aphylla (local name: sars) with wheat, chickpeas (Cicer arietinum) (local name: chana) or cluster beans (Cyamous tetragocalobe) (local name: guars). The majority of the farmers was in favour of intercropping and border cropping. Most farmers reported the protection of nearby crops from dust storms as the most important positive perception about both agroforestry systems. Age, education, and farm to market distance were significant determinants of agroforestry adoption. Older and less-educated farmers, with farms closer to markets were less likely to adopt tree planting or border cropping in Thal. In general, the agroforestry systems examined were more likely to be adopted by farmers who can wait 3–4 years for harvesting crop outputs, but not by poorer farmers who are totally dependent on subsistence agriculture and cannot afford the high initial cost of agroforestry establishment, nor can they wait for crop output for extended periods. Furthermore, the adoption of both agroforestry systems was more likely in remote marginal areas than in areas close to markets. To increase agroforestry adoption rates, government policies should strengthen farmers’ knowledge of every stage of agroforestry through extension services, focusing particularly among the prime prospects, i.e. farmers who will be most likely to adopt agroforestry. Once the prime prospects have adopted it, the older, less-educated, and poor farmers of the rural population can be also focused on to motivate adoption.

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