Arecent study conducted by the WWF-Pakistan has recommended promoting agroforestry in the country considering the significant benefits that it brings for farmers and the nation’s economy as a whole. The study also highlights the protection that agroforestry provides to natural forests by reducing the dependency on forest products. The study, conducted in K-P, Punjab, and Sindh, finds that agroforestry has not only brought economic benefits but has made impressive contribution in keeping the environment relatively clean by neutralising the impact of emission of harmful gases.
According to the study, the total consumption of timber in the country in 2012-13 was 6.06 million cubic metres, to which farmland contribution was a whopping 87.4%. The net annual return from eucalyptus plantation is 25% more than any other combination of cash crops in the three provinces. The study has stressed the need for removing some common misperceptions and myths about eucalyptus trees. It says that in Pakistan full potential of agroforestry has not been realised, so the authorities need to be more focused on it. Besides bringing numerous benefits, this will help reduce poverty and contribute to climate action.
Agroforestry is a method under which trees and shrubs are grown along farmlands. This gives multiple benefits such as trees produce fruits and products of medicinal value, greatly meet timber needs for construction purposes and also provide wood for making plywood products. Besides, shrubs provide firewood. Trees and shrubs also enhance soil fertility by working as a good protection from soil erosion thus improving crop yield and food production. Agroforestry sets off a chain of productive and beneficial events ranging from enhancing farmer incomes, protecting land degradation, sequestering harmful gases like carbon dioxide and improving biodiversity. Thus agroforestry supplements the functions of natural forests and also works as a protective shield for them. Trees and shrubs grown close to agricultural fields protect the environment by adding to greenery.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 22nd, 2020.
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