|Technology scenarios in the Asia-Pacific forestry sector. (1997)|
Historically, small farmers have been the most obvious clients of agroforestry research, extension and projects. A review of developments in some Asia-Pacific countries indicates that in the future this will change. Market liberalization and progressive tenurial land arrangements in former centrally planned economies have a major impact on the rural areas. They provides off-farm employment in the urban areas and stimulate the development of rural industries. It creates markets for forest and tree products which led to the establishment of 2 million ha of Paulownia plantations in China and an increase in small-scale pulpwood production in Vietnam for export to Japan and Taiwan. In Thailand, farmers responded to the increasing demand for short-fibre pulp by planting trees even though the Forest Plantation Act of 1992 discourages investments in forest plantations. In India, the plywood sector has created a demand for poplar to which the private sector has responded. Arrangements between private companies and farmers have stimulated tree growing in India, Thailand and the Philippines, where the Paper Industries Corporation of the Philippines (PICOP) has a long history of co-operation with farmers (Kato, 1996).
Wood processing technologies have changed too. Rubberwood can now be used by the plywood and the medium density fibreboard sector (see section on wood processing). In India, ammonium fumigation techniques enhance the appearance of eucalyptus wood. The provision of quality seeds and seedlings as well as clonal material is still the exception for the small-scale user but as the example of the Western India Match Company (WIMCO) and ITC Bhadrachalam indicate, private companies have started to provide tree growers with high-quality planting stock (Tandon, 1991; Saxena, 1994; Lal, 1995).
However, it is not technological innovations that explain the increase of private plantations but rather the availability of land that was formerly used for agricultural purposes, market liberalization which has increased the demand for wood as well as non-timber forest products, changes in land security (e.g., in Vietnam) as well as a closer co-operation between rural tree growers and industries.
Due to further population growth and economic development, the demand for wood and wood products will increase in the future. Due to industrial development, the agricultural labour force will decrease. The combination of these two processes means that more wood will be produced in the rural areas outside the reserved forests. However, it is questionable whether the small farmer, particularly the resource poor, will benefit. As examples in India, Laos and Thailand indicate, it will be rather the people who are able to obtain credit or who have the necessary capital who venture into growing trees.