The agroforestry is not only a source of protection of natural forest in the country but also provides significant economic benefits to growers.
This was stated in a recent study conducted by the World Wildlife Fund-Pakistan (WWF-Pakistan).
The study, titled “Role of MDF and Particleboard industry in the protection of natural forest and promotion of agroforestry in Pakistan”, is aimed at determining the current status of agroforestry, the total volume of wood stock consumed by Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) and particleboard industries from private land and to identify whether farmers were satisfied or not with agroforestry practices.
The study was conducted in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), Punjab and Sindh, found that besides economic benefits of agroforestry, the environmental contribution in terms of offsetting the total GHGs MtCO2 emission of the country is impressive.
The total wood weight in the three provinces amounts to an estimated 223.13 million tonnes, whereas the total carbon contents of this amount to 131.109 million tonnes and its carbon sink amounts to 480.67 MtCO2.
This compares very favourably with the total emissions of the country which stood at 374 million tonnes in 2012, read the report.
The total timber consumption in the country is estimated at 6.06 million m3 in 2012-13 in which farmland contributes a major of timber which accounts for 87.4 per cent.
The study also negated the impression that agroforestry is competing for land with agriculture because 85 per cent of agroforestry is found to be linear plantation.
“In the current age of ecological sustainability and conservational awareness, agroforestry plays an important role as an eco-friendly and sustainable approach as a substitute for traditional farming practices,” the study added.
It further stated that agroforestry is an essential part of the farming system as it helps to support sustainable agriculture income from the farmlands. It has now transformed into one of the major agricultural economic streams as the wood produced on the farmlands has become the principal raw material for many conditions, it added.
The study claimed that agroforestry development will also help achieve several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including no poverty, industry, innovation and infrastructure, climate action and life on land.
About the economic benefits, the study claimed that net annual return from eucalyptus plantation is up to 25 per cent more than any combination of other cash crops in K-P, Punjab and Sindh.
It also suggested conducting focused research to ascertain the real potential of agroforestry and clarifying the myths and misperception like in the case of eucalyptus.
Further, it stated that while the realisation about the fast degradation of forest in the country is important, the promotion of agroforestry is necessary where natural resources are being exploited ruthlessly.
It added that a separate agroforestry policy or making a separate section within the National Forest Policy was needed.
“Agroforestry has not been properly organised and still there is a misperception that the trees on farmlands reduce crop yields. However, the introduction of eucalyptus, poplar and has changed the rural trend in many areas,” the study concluded.
Published in The Express Tribune, Septe0mber 21st, 2020.
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