Ecological degradation is one of the root causes for global poverty, often felt strongest among smallholder farmers and indigenous people. Well-designed agroforestry focused on social impact offers farming communities food security and access to value chains for forest and food products. At the beginning of 2019, Commonland embarked on an ambitious landscape restoration project in central India. Funded by the IKEA Foundation, TNC India and Commonland aim to catalyse agroforestry at scale by providing smallholder farmers with technical assistance and access to resources, to develop sustainable local institutions and build linkages to markets for their forest and agroforest products.
Supported by Ikea Foundation, Commonland has developed a landscape resilience program, mainly revolving around agroforestry. We are doing this in close collaboration with strong local partners, including The Nature Conservancy, Samerth Charitable Trust and local government. Commonland is responsible for landscape orchestration, project management and facilitating transformational processes such as inspiring local partners, offering farmer education and cultivating collective leadership. Put simply, to unite all parties and initiatives into a single inclusive restoration project with the potential to scale.
The project has taken off in ten villages in Kabirdham district in Chhattisgarh. The project addresses both natural forest regeneration by smallholders and the long-term sustainable commercial supply of agroforest products by medium and large-scale farmers. In both cases, empowering farmers by providing them with new income streams, motivation and voice are key drivers.
The wide-scale introduction of agroforestry offers a sustainable long-term solution to the region’s current monoculture practices and commercial activities like tree cutting. A well-designed agroforestry project focused on social impact regenerates soil, protects existing forests, better retains water and improves biodiversity in the landscape. Greater yields result in greater income that help these farming communities meet their basic human needs and find pride in the environment where they live.