Agroforestry and Food Security Status in Nepal

Agroforestry is a collective name for land-use systems and practices where woody perennials are deliberately integrated with crops and/or animals on the same land management unit. Agroforestry is a farming system that integrates crops and or livestock with trees and shrubs.
Agroforestry practices should be increased to uplift the livelihood of the rural population by marketing various agroforestry products. Agroforestry practices also help to reduce food insecurity problem rising in developing countries like ours. Agroforestry includes various activities and parties from the process of production to consumers.

Food Security: Food insecurity exists when people do not have adequate physical, social or economic access to food as defined above. The continuing practice of traditional farming has increased food insecurity. Food requirement is increasing drastically with the increase in population. The traditional way of farming should be replaced by agroforestry practices. This system of farming produces multiple products thus expected to reduce food insecurity somehow.
Agroforestry and Food Security Status in Nepal-- Agroforestry practice
Fodder trees in the boundary of terrace and timber & firewood trees in sloppy land. 

Introduction of Lampata Community Forest (CF)

Our team of college student reached Lampata CF as an excursion to learn through observation and interaction with the community. On discussion with the members of this CF, we get to know this community forest was handover as CF in 2053 BS, Poush 7 (1996 AD). The forest area extended up to 84.27 ha (measured by GPS in 2072 BS (2015 AD)). For scientific forest management of the forest, the extends of the forest should be above 100 ha. However, scientific forest management is practiced for sustainable yield. Currently, the community forest is under the presidency of Mr. Risiram Khanal and the beneficial household number reached out 270. Three different study blocks are made to enrich the forest products. Particular block has its particular function differently than others. The three main objectives include the production of round timber, production of fodder plants and practice of agroforestry for multiple forest product production. Forest under the CF comprises many plant species including Sal, Katus, and Chilaunae as three major species.
Agroforestry and Food Security Status in Nepal-- group photo
Our colleague team in Field Visit at Lampata CF 

Objectives of the field visit was;
To know the agroforestry related activities and status of AF in the CF.
To analyze the SFM in relation to agroforestry and food security

Methodology applied to obtain the objectives.
Our team reached Lampata CF and involved in discussion with the members of CF which are also the members of the community around that community forest. Involve in Focus group discussion as well. Give some time to have some filed visit to observe the condition of forest and management practices applied there within.

Activities in the Community Forest

There is a total of seven plots among which three plots are managed under scientific forest management. The size of plots is 50 * 80 m2 of each. The trees were felled using a selection system. Silvicultural activities like thinning, pruning, lopping etc. are done from time to time.
According to a member of the CF Benefit Sharing is as follows:
Forest development: 25%
DAGs: 35%
Community Development: 40%

Agroforestry activities in the Community Forest

In this community forest, agroforestry practice begins after an agroforestry related training was first conducted in 2070 B.S. Local Resource Group (LRG) was formed in the same year. Agroforestry seedling was distributed to the member of the CF to implement agroforestry in practice. Banana farming was emphasized to the local farmers under agroforestry practice. Under agroforestry, members of the CF were trained to cultivate fodder species in the side of the terrace and crops are intercropped in the middle of the terrace. Mendola, Ipil ipil, and Bhatmase plant are some plants that are mainly planted in the side of bari (crop land with no direct water channel or irrigated water)which is Leguminosae species and helps to fix nitrogen and increase soil fertility.
Many members of that CF are interested in agroforestry as it was proved to be a good source of income. Agroforestry intervention was introduced to utilize underutilize land. Agroforestry techniques in the village have resulted in proper land management increasing the capacity and fertility of the land. The CF provides naked land to a member of the user group to grow grasses for goat farming which helps in income generation and proper land utilization. The major agroforestry products marketed from Lampata CF are banana, ginger, turmeric, broom, honey, and black sugarcane.
Banana farmers had harvested their products targeting to the festival and other local level religious functions.  Local fruit sellers and retail shop keepers of the local market, called sotipasal, had direct contact with farmers or producers, and farmers supplied their banana fruit and other fresh products based on the demand of fruit sellers and shop keepers.

Additional Benefits of Agroforestry

There are a lot of benefits that we benefited from other than the direct benefit that people gain from agroforestry multiple products like timber, firewood, fodder and various crops at the same time.
Besides this agroforestry would help in Climate change mitigation as agricultural practices carried out without hampering forest composition and ecology. It is unwise to use an area that is highly sensitive to the erosion of agriculture purpose alone. If the agroforestry practices implemented in such areas then it would help in soil conservation as well as to retain soil quality and improved in the long run. For increasing, crop yield agroforestry is the best practice that should be carried out which enriches the productivity of the soil. Agroforestry helps out in the purification of groundwater along with retaining water by tree roots. Thus, as a result, groundwater becomes cleaner and contains fewer chemicals. In the scenario of habitat destruction of various wild fauna, agroforestry would help by providing vital habit.

Agroforestry solutions to address food security

Improving the agroforestry practice aside, one of the ways to improve food security. Through diverse food production, natural resource conservation, improving nutrition, health and increasing economic income of rural poor people, agroforestry play an important role in country's food security. For hungry and food-insecure communities, agroforestry creates more resilient agricultural systems where the risk of crop failure is minimized and spread between diverse crops. Agroforestry can enhance food production through their various benefits. An agroforestry system has more than two components and yield food grain, fruit, vegetable, spices, livestock food products.
Agri-silviculture, agri-horticulture, silvi-pastoral, agri-silvi-pastoral and other systems like aqua forestry, apiculture with tree species are the most important agroforestry systems which will play crucial role in countries food security.

Challenges in Agroforestry

There are lot of challenges while implementing agroforestry in practice. It is not that easy as easy as to have a discussion about agroforestry. Although it is the best practice due to its lots of benefits it can provide but it is really hard to convert natural forest or farmland turn into agroforestry mainly due to  lack of capital because most of the farmers have low economic status thus they can't afford to turn their practices into agroforestry practice.
  • Lack of technical skills to the locals has suppresses the extension of agroforestry practices all around the community and nation.
  • Lack of quality seeds is another drawback that is not in favor of extending agroforestry. High quality of seeds would only be best way to increase the production of agroforestry products otherwise no significant difference than other practices.
  • Lack of manpower leads low participation in agroforestry practices. It is highly labor-intensive practice that demands the involvement of huge no. of people participation.  Village youth are out of village in search of jobs and others income generating activities which causes lacks of manpower for implementing multi beneficial agroforestry practices.
  • Market inaccessibility causes difficulties in supplying agroforestry products upto the markets. Thus the producers are not getting that benefits that they would get when if accessibility of market is made better. When market accessibility is made easier then the profit slipped in the hand of middle man would reached out in the hand or producer thus agroforesty practices would enhance.

Agroforestry has more than two components which provide diverse farm products. It reduces the risk of crop failure during adverse conditions such as prolong drought period and other natural calamities due to climate change. It also helps to enhance nutrition, health and income of rural poor people. Thus, agroforestry (sustainable land use) system is the best one option for tackling the food security problem.

Agroforestry practice would be extended all over nation and many poor people would be benefited only when some chages need to be introduced at district and national levels to promote policies supporting agroforestry and capacity building for climate-smart agriculture. Every people in the community may not have sufficient knowledge about agroforestry and it's benefits thus it's needed to provide awareness program in the community so that participation would increase thereafter. Since the women covers half of the portion of the community. Neglecting half of the community behind in implementing agroforestry the practice would never be success unless participation of women is ensure. Thus it is need to involve women in all meetings, trainings related to agro-forestry and encourage them to envolve.