Most of the rural poor are small holders practicing low inputs agricultural production and living in arid and semi-arid regions of dry lands. Some dry land regions of India are characterized by erratic rainfall, high temperature, and poor quality land where the prospects of successful arable cropping are limited & risky.
Production system under the fragile dryland environment challenged with several biophysical & socio-economic problems. The growing food insecurity and deteriorating livelihood situations in dry regions of India call for concerted and consorted actions to take advantage of the high potential of agro forestry, among other systems, for promoting best land use practices, which increase the productivity (yield) of land, combine the production of crops, including the tree crops and forest plant and animals simultaneously or sequentially on the same unit of land, meeting the ecological and socio-economic need of rural people.
Agroforestry in dryland areas increase livelihood security through simultaneous production of food, fodder, and firewood and an increase in total productivity per unit area of land. To enhance the rural livelihood security among the dryland farmers, several improved agroforestry system viz. agrisilviculture, silvihorticulture, Horti-Silvi-pasture and such other similar system came in to being for adoption, which will not only fulfill the basic needs of rural people for food, fuel, fodder, fruits and fodder to the animals but also ensures regular income of rural people and improve the socio-economic condition of the farmers of these region. Depending on the kind of component involved many subsystems of agroforestry system are suitable for profitable land use and contribute to livelihood security. The tree based system has multiple benefits in comparison to sole cropping under dryland situation. Some of the important system are suggested below:
Agrisilviculture: In arid and semi-arid regions, hardy trees like P. cineraria (Khejri), T. undulate (Rohida), neem, ber, etc. could be grown along with dryland crops of bajra/jawar, moth, til etc without affecting crop production. E.g., Leucaena + sorghum/pearl millet/castor/pulses, neem/vagai + fodder sorghum/pulses.
Agri-silvi-pastoral system: This system integrate crop, pasture and/or animals with trees. Such type of system can be used for food production and provide fodder and fuel.
Agri-horticultural system: In these types of system short duration arable crops are raised in the interspaces of fruit trees. Some of the fruit trees that can be grown for dry lands are bael, ber, pomegranate, custard apple, karonda and jamun etc. Pulses are the main arable crops for this system. However, depending on the requirement, others like sorghum and pearlmillet can be grown in the interspaces of fruit trees. Agri-horticultural systems provide an efficient land use and better economic return than the corresponding sole crop.
Horti/ Silvi - Pastoral system: Horti-pastoral system involve integration of fruit trees with pasture. Guava, custard apple and ber suits well in horti- pastoral system with grasses like Cenchrus ciliaris (anjan), Panicum antidote and chloris gayana (rhodes) and legumes like Stylosanthes haemata etc. When fruit trees is replaced by a top-feed tree, it is called as silvi-pstoral system. Leguminous fodder trees are raised with fodder grasses and legumes as intercrops. E.g., acacia + cenchrus + stylosanthes, vagai/sisoo + cenchrus + stylosanthes.
Thus, domestication of forest fruit trees and other species grown in agroforestry system often significant to opportunity for livelihood improvement through nutritional and economic security of the poor in tropics. However, Agroforestry provides employment with relatively lesser investment and that too for unskilled rural sector. Products like pole/bamboo and small timber for rural housing, timber for manufacturing, wood composites e.g. plywood/particle boards/black boards, bamboo for housing, bamboo and hard woods for all type of paper and paper products, medicinal plant extracts etc. can absorb millions of unemployed and meet the subsistence needs of low income households. Thus, provide a platform for greater and sustained livelihood of the rural society. Agroforestry has not only uplifted the socio-economc status of farmers, but also contribute towards the overall development of the region. Dryland agroforestry for livelihood security reflects the positive way in utilization of rainfed area resources.
Uncertainty in rainfall, poor soil health, unsuitable temperature regime and low level of management made annual cropping of arable crops non-remunerative enterprises in any regions of dry land. In certain areas, cropping has been done altogether and due to un-cultivation of crops land remains fallow and become wasteland which is severely affected by unwanted vegetation. To overcome this problem and to bring back the land under economically usable with vegetation, alternate use system such as agro forestry is an option. It act as an insurance against crop failure in dry land areas and improve rural livelihood through provide higher and stable income to the rural farmer.
*Rupesh Kumar Meena, Gaurav
Ph.D. Scholar, Swami Keshwanand Rajasthan Agriculture University, Bikaner
Ph.D. Scholar, Institute of Agricultural Sciences, BHU, Varanasi