People’s Engagement and Participation on agroforestry development

This is a short report prepared after the field visit of the Agroforestry subject. It was submitted to the professor of the Institute of Forestry. It would help to give a light outline of the topic finding based on field visits as well.


Regarding our course of study, the Institute of Forestry, Pokhara Campus, Pokhara is required to arrange field visits of agroforestry models for better learning and understating of the agroforestry system for its students of M.Sc. 1st year, 1st Semester. On 6th and 9th of Magh, 2076 B.S., as a part of our course content of the Agroforestry subject, we went to Rajako Chutara of Pokhara Metropolitan to see one of agroforestry model and Putalibazar Municipality to see a successful two commercial model of agroforestry. This report discusses the agroforestry models, their species composition, and management practices as well as some improvements that can be made in the existing models based on the observation and finding from two agroforestry farms.

Introduction to Agroforestry and People Participation

Land – a major natural resource for developing countries like Nepal - same time land degradation is a major challenge. (Acharya, 2009). For instance, agriculture intensification is taken as a major threat to sustainable development in mountain regions that already suffer from lower soil fertility, increased soil erosion, pollution, and eutrophication of water bodies, and reduced biodiversity. Since time immemorial, farmers grew trees for fulfilling subsistence farming needs but nature and extent depend on the size of land accessibility of fodder from community forests (Amatya et al., 2018).

Agroforestry has been recognized as one of the important systems for supporting the livelihoods of a large number of rural farmers in the Nepalese hills. However, its conservation and socio-economic values have received little attention (Pandit, 2014). In recent years, there has been a growing realization that improving market access for smallholders will lead to improved income and food security (Pandit, 2019).

WHO (2002) defines people participation as a process by which people are enabled to become actively and genuinely involved in defining the issues of concern to them, in making decisions about factors that affect their lives, in formulating and implementing policies, in planning, developing, and delivering services, and in taking action to achieve change. People's participation, especially community-based organizations helps to scale up the benefits of agricultural research and development and enhance the partnership between farmers, government agencies, and other service providers (Noordin et al. 2001).

Visited Agroforestry Farms

The three Agroforestry farm was selected for a field visit. One from Rajako Chautaro of Kaski district while the other two are from Syangja districts at Mayatari and Karendada. The agroforestry farm from Kaski district was Vatika Agrofarm Cooperative. The agroforestry model they have developed is the Agro-Silvo-Pastoral system. The major components of the agroforestry are coffee as an agricultural cash crop, Schima castanopsis as tree species, and grass/fodder grown for goat.
Two agroforestry farms from Syangja, Falful bagaicha tatha Highland Coffee Nursery located at Karendada and Shanti Coffee Farm located at Mayatari. The agroforestry model they have developed is the Agro-Horti-Silviculture system. The major components of agroforestry are Coffee, Orange, Banana, and Pineapple. These two-agroforestry farms are the successful commercial model of agroforestry.

Mr. Bodhraj Aryal has run “Shanti Coffee Farm” one of the successful commercial agroforestry models on his farm. He started involving in agriculture for his livelihood in 2049 B.S., initially through tomato farming, while the commercial coffee production started 11 years ago.
Falful bagaicha is a privately own agroforestry model by Mr. Bhumi Jung K.C. He prospered in agroforestry through the process of trial and error and continuous hard work. He has received the prize for his organic and three-storey agroforestry model from Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2053 A.D. of US $10,000 and in the same year received a prize of honor from Late King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah.

What is Agroforestry?

Agroforestry practice is an old practice only the term “agroforestry” is new. The term ‘agroforestry’ refers to the deliberate growth of forestry crops i.e. trees and agricultural crops and/or animals on the same land with the aim of increased production and/or ecological stability. People raised trees, crops, and livestock on the farm over centuries for meeting the basic requirements. A successful agroforestry model comprises the correct choice of species’ composition, management practices, and people’s motivation and understanding. AF is an intensive land use management that increases total production as it involves the growing of herbaceous to perennials in association with food crops and livestock.

Increasing recognition of Agroforestry in Nepal

Nowadays, the importance of agroforestry is growing in Nepal as well. The landholding capacity is reducing so, fulfilling basic requirements from the land growing mono-crop is getting difficult. People get aware from an economic point of view to take a maximum return from small land areas. Optimum utilization of resources provides maximum economic profit and maintain ecological balance maintain soil water conservation and energy balance. People participating in commercial agroforestry practice is growing in Nepal in recent years and this number would definitely rise in the close future.
People’s Engagement and Participation on agroforestry development-- Agroforestry Practice
Agroforestry Practice in Nepal

Finding of Field Visit

All agroforestry farms are found motivated for making an income by commercializing their agroforestry products. Livestock rearing, horticulture, and cash crop planting highly benefitting agroforestry practice when managed properly. People’s participation is not well satisfactory in all, very few are regular workers at low wages, most of them are seasonal.

Vatika Agro-farm Cooperative
Goat farming although own by Vatika agroforestry farm cooperative with huge members (1050), only a few executive members have to take responsibility, four laborers and a manager is given regular farm work responsibility in low wage and salary while profit distributed to every member of the cooperative. However, local market dependent this farm was unable to meet operational cost even to provide a salary to workers from the revenue it generated. Currently, it may be due to its initial investment phase where the return is lower than the input. Along with fodder plants and grasses, it has been two years since they started coffee plantations and in the process of increasing hybrid seed goats in the near future.

Falful bagaicha and Shanti Coffee are relatively well-established privately own agroforestry farms and they have a good market approach for their product. Thus, receives a handsome amount of money. The responsible person of the farm is the owner himself thus benefit sharing is also limited to himself. They kept labor in lower-wage as possible in fewer than 3-4 in number in both farms as regular other labor needs are fulfilled in support of family members. Both farms have similar agroforestry products so, similar kinds of market arrangements. The contractor takes fruit like orange, banana, etc. from the tree in the domestic market. Coffee, including its processed product, takes international markets of Japan. Organic coffee couldn’t meet demand in the Japanese market.

Falful baigaicha tatha Highland Coffee Nursery
Owner of Falful baigaicha, Mr. K.C. used to be a wheat farmer in his early days, but later as the productivity decreased gradually decreased with continuous use of chemical fertilizers, he decided to never use such fertilizers and adopted organic farming practices. He received plants of guava, banana, and oranges from District Forest Office, Kaski, and later moved forward to the cultivation of other species and currently, there are 46 species of fruits on the farm. He had to discontinue pineapple farming due to increased conflict with wild animals. He earned sixteen lakhs Nepalese Rupees from the sale of orange alone in the past year. Three people are currently employed on his farm and some workers are added on contract during times of maximum work. He has run this model of agroforestry successfully over many years since past, coping up with stresses like diseases and pests in oranges, coffee, decreased soil fertility, etc.

Being one of the pioneers of the successful organic farming model, especially in agroforestry, one can learn that agroforestry can be an economically productive and ecologically stable model. Hard work and adapting to changes and innovation can help anyone achieve success in life. One drawback of his farm is that the farm is very dense and the spacing is unmanaged. If the spacing of plants can be managed scientifically, we can expect increased production from the farm.

Shanti Coffee Farm
In Shanti Coffee, the owner has commercially farming coffee, guava, lemongrass, and other varieties of products in 130 ropani of land, which also includes nursery of coffee and different species of flowers and vegetables, while 45 ropani of land is allocated for different seasonal and non-seasonal oranges. There are 1000 orange trees and 7000 coffee plants on the farm. The major products of his farm are targeted especially for the Japanese market, where he exports his product himself without any influence of middle-men, due to which profit can be maximized at minimal prices. Some of the products of the farm are also processed on the farm for the local and national markets. There are 5 to 6 people employed full-time on his farm. He obtained numerous training and attended many workshops related to agroforestry and coffee cultivation both in Nepal and abroad to help achieve success in agroforestry.

Initially, coffee plants were planted under the shade of orange trees, as orange trees are in abundant numbers in farms of Syangja district and it is the super zone for oranges in Nepal. But, later it was observed that the coffee disturbed the production of orange in the trees, and hence all the coffee plants were cut down. Then coffee was planted under natural forests around the northern and eastern aspects of the hills, or under similar aspects in manually created shades of fodder trees and fruit trees like mango, guava, jackfruit, litchi, etc. with the main of obtaining income from the upper storey as well as the lower storey. Later, after the coffee plants grow bigger, and the vertical space near the ground opens up, ginger, turmeric, lemongrass, etc. are planted.

Seeing the farm’s success, other farmers also replicated the practice on their farm, but the study about the market was not done. The production was so high that it was hard for the farmers to identify the market, due to which the farmers cut down the trees. However, the market for this farm was secure as he has a contract with Japanese traders and exports about 30 different types of products in raw form. This has helped him earn net of one lakh Nepalese rupees per month. Some levels of processing are done on the farm as well. Some of the products sold by the farm are coffee cherries, green coffee beans, roasted coffee beans, coffee powder, seed coat of coffee, seed coat powder (coffee flour), etc. One new product of his farm was an organic insecticide produced by condensing the smoke through green bamboo pipes. This insecticide has helped him to cure white spots on the orange trees. It can be also useful to keep off pests and insects. One major shock in the farm was when red rust disease or Sindure rog spread all over the coffee plants of a hill aspect of about 75 ropani, due to which all the coffee plants of that area had to be cut and the whole ground was burned and coffee was replanted, which will be ready to produce fruit within 3 years.

The study of his farm proves that hard work can make any person be successful. His farm is well managed and is operating sustainably. Correct choice and arrangement of species, the study of the market, diversification of product, and a small level of on-farm value addition can help an innovation become successful.

People's participation in Agroforestry Activities

People's participation is found lower, few landholders with huge land plots and few poor people working in wages on their farm only participate. Managing market facilities for people growing agroforestry products from small landholders would definitely increase people's participation. Individual farmers working in solitary and on small scale has the risk of lower opportunity to market as the production cost would higher when transportation cost higher to transport lower quantity. Agroforestry practice in the community would help increase people's participation in agroforestry.

Discussion on Agroforestry Development

Pandit et al., 2014 recognized agroforestry as one of the important systems for supporting the livelihood of a large number of rural farmers in the Nepalese hills. Our field visit finding shows remarkably few numbers of people participating in agroforestry. This might be due to the outmigration of active labor force working overseas reduces agricultural productivity also burden the workload to women (Tamange et al., 2014). People’s negligence towards agriculture occupation and livestock farming, livelihood dependence on remittance, non-agriculture-based economy was the scenario in the field. This results in a decline of ‘a typical Nepali Agroforestry’, the term mentioned by Palikhe & Fujimatio, 2010, which is the agroforestry that heavily depends on fodder for livestock resulting in manuring and forest litter used as bedding for maintaining soil fertility.
New agroforestry policy 2076 has prioritized local cooperatives and the private sector to be involved in agroforestry practices to increase people's participation with increased benefits – “whether policy motivates and increases people participation?” is still a huge question. There is no Agroforestry act and regulation to work in accordance with the agroforestry policy.

Conclusion and Recommendation
People's interest in agroforestry practices found to be declining as small land-holding families couldn’t earn compare to the time they spent on the farm. Only a few numbers of people engaged in agroforestry directly in wage and as farm owners. Thus, benefit sharing is not equitable due to the unequal distribution of land resources. Significant improvement in the livelihood of people directly involving in agroforestry farms could not be achieved beside a few landholders.
Promote agroforestry activities in barren and degraded land so that people with low land holding capacity can also engage in agroforestry to improve their livelihood. Increase market reach to the agroforestry product from small scale farmers increases the number of people involving in agroforestry. Provision of the loan with low interest and different grants to attract more people towards agroforestry. New and innovative research focused on locally applicable and suitable agroforestry practices acknowledging different livelihood capital of resource-rich/poor. Develop a simple silvicultural regime to improve the quality and quantity of timber in under-utilized land.

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