Agroforestry for income and livelihood development of ethnic minorities in Bangladesh


Authors: Kazi Kamrul Islam

General - 2024

ISSUE No.: 62


Language: English


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Agroforestry has enhanced the livelihoods of millions of smallholders globally. In Bangladesh, this is true for ethnic communities, including the Garo and Koch who are dependent on the Madhupur Sal forest. The Bangladesh Forest Department first introduced agroforestry in 1989, as part of a people-oriented forest management approach which sought to restore the Madhupur Sal forest - the country's most deforested and degraded forest. In this initiative, each farmer received 1 ha of deforested land and 50% of the land’s earnings would be shared with the department after a 10-year cycle. The Forest Department found that there were five types of profitable agroforestry practices in Madhupur: acacia-pineapple-aroid; jackfruit-pineapple-papaya; acacia-pineapple-turmeric; acacia-pineapple-ginger; acacia-pineapple-papaya; and jackfruit-pineapple-papaya. These practices have been found to generate significant income for farmers, with variations in output and costs depending on the specific combinations. The acacia-pineapple-aroid system proved to be the most profitable as it had the lowest total production cost and experienced little market price fluctuation. Income generation, however, was not the only benefit of this agroforestry programme. The programme had broader socio-economic impacts, including improvements in child and adult literacy rates, access to healthcare facilities, and road infrastructure development. Farmers were also able to invest in home development, purchase livestock, and increase their food self-sufficiency. To maximise these benefits of agroforestry, there is a need to further develop social and human capital and high-yield agroforestry practices, which will require more farmer training and support programmes. The investment of which is worthy as agroforestry has already proven its ability to address the challenges of deforestation and poverty, making it a crucial strategy for sustainable land use and livelihood improvement.  

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