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close this bookResource Management for Upland Areas in Southeast Asia - An Information Kit (IIRR, 1995, 207 p.)
close this folder2. Integrated upland systems management
View the documentGeneral systems overview
View the documentOverview of agroforestry systems in Southeast Asia
View the documentDesign and management considerations for agroforestry systems
View the documentIntegrating local tree species into family farms
View the documentAgroforestry systems in China
View the documentAgroforestry systems in Indonesia
View the documentAgroforestry systems in the Philippines
View the documentAgroforestry systems in Thailand
View the documentAgroforestry systems in Vietnam

Overview of agroforestry systems in Southeast Asia

What is agroforestry?

Agroforestry is the deliberate growth and management of trees along with agricultural crops and/or livestock in systems that are ecologically, socially and economically sustainable.

or, more simply:

Agroforestry is the use of trees in farming systems.

What is agroforestry?

How is agroforestry relevant in Southeast Asia?

In agroforestry research and development, both farmers and scientists should test and validate the aims, potential and positive interactions among both socioeconomic and ecological components. Some important aims of agroforestry are:

· Increased productivity/income
· Improved equity in benefit-sharing
· Sustainable upland management.

To work effectively with farmers, researchers and development workers must be able to approach agroforestry from a farming systems perspective. (See also Farming systems development.)

Ways to classify agroforestry systems

By components (What combinations of trees, crops, pasture and other components?)

By components

By function of trees (Are the trees used primarily for production or conservation?)

By function of trees

By temporal association (Is the system only temporary or more permanent?)

By temporal association

By pattern of trees (Are trees managed in a regular pattern or irregularly spread?)

By pattern of trees

By tenure

Agroforestry practices are influenced by the land and tree tenure system (private or state-controlled) that farmers operate in.

Tenure affects the decision farmers make about the kind of agroforestry system they can use.



Biased toward crops and livestock.

Biased toward trees

Emphasizes fruit trees and multipurpose tree species.

Emphasizes forest and timber tree species

Generally on private farm lands.

Generally on government controlled forest lands

Other important factors

Agroecological and environmental adaptability.
Socioeconomic characteristics.
Culture and traditions.
Management practices.

Tenure and land-use rights

Agroforestry technologies are only a partial solution to upland problems. Fundamental issues of land tenure and long-term use rights need to be resolved in the uplands. Secure tenure is an essential but not sufficient conditions. Other required support services must be mobilized; otherwise agroforestry efforts will not truly benefit resource-poor farmers.

Examples of tenurial policy changes that favor farming households

Renewable 25-year certificates of land stewardship granted within the Philippines, Integrated Social Forestry Program.

Renewable long-term production contracts (20 years on agricultural land and 50 or more years on forest land) provided to Vietnamese farmers on over 5 million hectares of lands formerly controlled by state agriculture and forest enterprises.

Evolution of agroforestry

Agroforestry systems in Southeast Asia have evolved over centuries and are very diverse and complex. Today, as conditions change, farmers continue to innovate, experiment and improve these systems.

To meet their needs of food, fodder and fuelwood, fiber and cash, farmers integrate agriculture crops, trees and livestock in their farming systems. This integration has resulted in a wide diversity of traditional agroforestry systems. Most of these systems are well-suited to the local agroecological conditions, the specific subsistence and cash needs of farmers, their social and cultural context and the environmental conservation needs.

In areas where the people are still living in forest areas or still surrounded by abundant forests (e.g., parts of Laos and Indonesia), they practice shifting cultivation and harvest or collect many nonwood forest products for their own use or for markets.

In settled agriculture, trees are extensively integrated with the farming systems. In densely populated areas, trees may be more valued and more valuable than in low-population areas where forests are still abundant. Agroforestry systems, particularly in high-population and fuelwood-deficit areas, can serve as buffer zones to mitigate the degradation of natural and plantation forests.

Trees in and around farms are planted judiciously, carefully and selectively. This is the most widely practiced agroforestry system. Very specific tree and crop combinations are developed for all agroecological zones. If the farming system is based on a tree that takes long time to produce yields (e.g., coconut, areca nut, horticultural trees, rubber), farmers intercrop and/or integrate livestock to generate some early economic returns.

Farmers living near the forests in densely populated areas have developed practices to integrate their farming systems with the adjoining forests to graze their cattle (or collect fodder) in the forest, or have develop forest gardens to meet their subsistence and cash needs.

Indigenous vs Introduced technologies

An agroforestry system may use:

· Indigenous (existing) technologies that farmers are familiar with.
· Practices that have been modified or improved by farmers or outsiders.
· Practices introduced by outside researchers or extension agents.

Indigenous or existing practices and knowledge should be the basis for designing agroforestry interventions. But many projects have relied (largely unsuccessfully) on introducing agroforestry models and technologies using exotic tree species and technologies.

Introducing technologies from outside has two risks:

· Introduced technologies may not be socially or economically acceptable to farmers.

· Introduced technologies or species may not be ecologically sound (e.g., introduction of Leucaena on acid soils).

Small-scale, on-farm experiments to test new technologies must be properly conducted and evaluated before these technologies can be promoted.

Current priorities in agroforestry development

Examples of agroforestry systems in Southeast Asia

Examples of agroforestry systems in Southeast Asia - continue 1

Examples of agroforestry systems in Southeast Asia -continue 2

Trees, crops and livestock combined (Agrosilvipastoral)

Trees, crops and livestock combined (Agrosilvipastoral) - continue

Other systems (Prepared by Chun K. Lal)