Supporting agroforestry adoption – Lessons from the Working Landscapes programme

Supporting agroforestry adoption – Lessons from the Working Landscapes programme

General - 22 March, 2023

The incorporation of trees on farms, known as agroforestry, has the potential to contribute to resilient livelihoods, climate change mitigation, and biodiversity conservation. But, despite its many benefits, the widespread adoption of agroforestry still faces numerous challenges.

As part of the Working Landscapes programme, we have been promoting smallholder agroforestry as a component of climate-smart landscapes in DR Congo, Ghana, Indonesia, and Viet Nam. To learn from the experiences in these focus landscapes, we have reflected on our achievements so far, best practices, the lessons we have learned, and what should be priorities for future programmes. We have compiled our main insights into a synthesis publication that is now available.

The new publication emphasizes three sets of conditions necessary for the uptake and upscaling of diverse agroforestry systems that contribute to livelihood, climate and biodiversity objectives.

The first set pertains to knowledge. It is important for farmers, extension officers, government planners, and NGO practitioners alike, to understand and recognize the potential benefits of diverse agroforestry, to understand how production, processing and trade can be improved, and how successful practices can be upscaled. Experiences in the Working Landscapes programme have shown the value of combining local and scientific knowledge through collaborative approaches and mutual learning. In Indonesia, for example, Tropenbos technicians and farmers worked together on developing methods to increase the profitability of rubber agroforestry practices.

The second set of conditions relates to government support. Government officials must adopt a holistic approach to agricultural development that recognizes the long-term benefits of diverse and multifunctional production models and the need for integrated planning. Governments must also remove regulatory barriers to smallholder agroforestry and increase the tenure security of agroforestry farmers. Civil Society Organizations can encourage governments towards more support for agroforestry. Tropenbos Viet Nam, for example, actively engaged government extension agencies in field-level training courses on coffee agroforestry, which inspired the government’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to provide similar trainings in other communities.

The third set of conditions pertains to economic viability. Agroforestry must be competitive with alternative land-use options, such as monoculture plantations. This requires access to markets for the products and services of agroforestry systems, as well as access to finance to invest in agroforestry systems and value chains. Tropenbos Ghana, for example, helped to establish Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs), which enabled cocoa farmers, especially women, to invest in the management of their cocoa agroforests and diversify their livelihood sources.

The publication offers many lessons about upscaling agroforestry for resilient livelihoods, climate change mitigation, and biodiversity conservation. It not only provides testimony of achieved results but also provides clear guidance for future programmes. You can find the full report here.

See below for additional publications and videos addressing various aspects of agroforestry adoption.