Ecological degradation is one of the root causes for global poverty, often felt strongest among rural farmers and indigenous (tribal) 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 financing and technical assistance, to develop a sustainable farmers’ institute and build links to markets for their forest products.
Supported by Ikea Foundation, Commonland will develop a landscape resilience program, mainly revolving around agroforestry. We are doing this in close collaboration with strong local partners, including The Nature Conservancy 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.
While a specific location has yet to be determined, the project will include both natural forest regeneration by smallholders and the long-term sustainable commercial supply of forest products by medium and large-scale farmers. In both cases, empowering marginalised farmers by providing them with both new income streams and political clout are key drivers.
As part of the project’s ongoing monitoring and evaluation, Commonland and the IKEA Foundation will create a full-length documentary from the start.
The wide-scale introduction of agroforestry offers a sustainable long-term solution to the region’s current monoculture practices and commercial activities like logging. A well-designed agroforestry project focused on social impact regenerates soil, protects existing forests, better retains water and reintroduces much-needed biodiversity to the Indian landscape. Greater yields result in greater income that help these farming communities meet their basic human needs and send their children (back) to school.