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Editorial Articles


Volume-3, 30 May - 05 June 2020

Career Opportunities in Agroforestry

Arvind Bijalwan, Manmohan JR Dobriyal and Tarun Kumar Thakur

Agroforestry is a land-use system which deals with theory and practice of creation, conservation and scientific management of agricultural crops, forest crops and livestock. Agroforestry is a sustainable land use system for harmonious development of agriculture and forestry sector besides offering various environmental services and generation of carbon credits. Commercial and Industrial Agroforestry in India is an emerging thrust areas in post green revolution period for food, wood and environmental security. In India, Agroforestry practices have been increased for livelihoods and commercial gain in limited land resources for enhancing the overall productivity. It has become a way of life for the rural communities as it plays an important role in land-use management, livelihood security and reduction of vulnerability. Growing human and livestock population require huge amount of food, fodder, fiber, medicine, timber etc. which is exerting intense pressure on natural resources in India. Green revolution in the country brought self-sufficiency in food grain production similar benefits could not be realized in the forestry sector to meet out the requirement of timber.

The production of wood and other tree products is intricately linked to industrial growth and rural development. As per study the production potential of trees for wood in India is moderately low at the rate of 0.7 m3/ha/year compared to the world average of about 2.1 m3/ha/year, resulting in a huge gap between the demand and supply with scarcity of wood. The rising demand of food and wood could be accomplished either by increasing the farm and forest area or by adopting sustainable land management practices. Agroforestry is one such way for planting trees outside the forest to achieve the goal of 33% of forest and tree cover as required in national forest policy of 1988 against present level of about 25%.

The National Commission on Agriculture (1976) had highlighted inclusion of agroforestry in the syllabus of agriculture in State Agricultural Universities (SAUs) in India. In an organize institutional way the agroforestry in India initiated by the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR), launching All India Coordinated Research Project on Agroforestry (AICRPAF) during 1983. Further a National Research Centre for Agroforestry (NRCAF) was established by ICAR during 1988 which has been upgraded to Central Agroforestry Research Institute (CAFRI) at Jhansi in Central India. The first National Agroforestry Policy was launched in India during 2014 which also focuses to strengthen the agroforestry at grass root level as a course curriculum in school education and motivating youths to grow and conserve the trees. At present, the research, education and extension in agroforestry in India are being pursued by ICAR and Ministry of Agriculture and farmers Welfare (MoA&FW), however the role of ICFRE and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) is equally important

LIVELIHOODS AND NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT THROUGH AGROFORESTRY

When we talk about livelihood at rural landscape, the food, wood, fuel, fodder, fibers and fruits are the major supporting entities. For such requirements, agroforestry has become a way of life of the farmers and rural communities where it plays an important role in land-use management, livelihood security and reduction of vulnerability. India being a home to the small and marginal farmers, the food security and livelihoods opportunity depends on their performance where traditional agroforestry can help them in all respects. The Poplar and Eucalyptus based agroforestry reflected profitable than pure agriculture in Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh. In hot arid and semi-arid areas, the species like Prosopis, Albizia, Zizyphus and Acacia provide many times more returns per unit of land than agriculture alone. Similarly, multilayered agroforestry (home gardens) in Kerala and North east is an established example for utilizing space and time to maximize the productivity with the diverse produce, thereby generating livelihood for the farmers. The Grewia and other temperate trees based agroforestry system in Himalayan region are fulfilling the need of hill farmers for fodder, fuel, fiber and wild edible fruits. The important agroforestry models such as agrisilviculture, agrihorticulture, silvipasture, agrisilvihorticulture, Hortipasture boundary/ peripheral plantation, Block plantation etc and linking them with carbon finance are highly beneficial to the farmers. Agroforestry immensely helps in natural resource conservation and management to improve the soil fertility, maintain the soil and water balance with restoration of land degradation. The farmers ITK (Indigenous Technical Knowledge) in the form of traditional agroforestry to harness the tree benefits is now scaled up in commercial and industrial forestry. The debris and leaf fall from the trees in agroforestry make the soil porous and naturally active. Tree species with grasses (silvipasture) is an important technique for accelerating the process of restoration and making land biologically active in mining and landslide areas. Agroforestry is also a major contributor in carbon forestry in agricultural landscape through carbon sequestration, clean environment, agroecotourism and agroecosystem services. Therefore, agroforestry is now emerging as a green enterprising and good business model for natural resource managers.

 

TEACHING AND EDUCATION IN AGROFORESTRY

In India Agroforestry education is presently being imparted in State Agriculture Universities (SAUs), traditional Universities and private Institutions as an important subject in B.Sc. Forestry, B.Sc. Agriculture, B.Sc. Horticulture etc. The master programme in Agroforestry (M.Sc. Agroforestry) and doctorate in Agroforestry (Ph.D. Agroforestry) is being offered by various SAUs, CAUs and others institutions in India. The agro-foresters are trained in such a way that they can acquire the real time knowledge of current trends of agroforestry. The different aspects covered under master programme such as Introductory Agroforestry, Principles and Practices of Agroforestry, Multipurpose Trees in Agroforestry, Principles of Crop Production in Agroforestry, Shrubs & Fruit Crops in Agroforestry, Fodder and Pasture development in Agroforestry, Soil, Water and watershed Management in Agroforestry, Production Economics, Marketing & value chain of Agroforestry, Natural Resource Mangement,  Forest certification, Carbon  agroforestry and carbon finance, Commercial & Industrial Agrofrestry, Agroforestry ecosystem services, and Research methodology and Statistical design in agroforestry etc. In addition to this, credit seminar and independent research work in the form of thesis fulfilling all requirements viz. Research synopsis, pre-thesis seminar, thesis and viva voce evaluation by the external examiner. The field attachment (field work) and study tour programme are the core elements of the agroforestry programme. The minimum three years Doctoral programme (Ph.D. Agroforestry) is also offered by many SAUs, Deemed universities, traditional Universities and autonomous institutions with advanced courses in Agroforestry along with research work in specific topic of agroforestry and related fields.

At a time when there is crisis of wood in the country and we are importing wood from the other countries, agroforestry seems to be the only possible option to meet out the requirement of wood from the farm itself. Further, the natural conservation approach, carbon sequestration and ecosystem services are favouring agroforestry management. Thus the following areas in the field of agroforestry are emerging and seems to be very important in the recent time in many ways: Industrial agroforestry- Pulp and Paper, plywood & panel products industry, Value Chain in Industrial Agroforestry; Planation technology of valuable and Fast growing trees; Economics of timber production in Agroforestry and Farm Forestry Systems; Intensive Intercrop Production; PPP based Agro-Farm-Forestry;  Farm forests and Tree certification; Institute-Industry-Farmer interface and agroforestry models; Climate Smart Agroforestry; Agroforestry programs, Policy and legal framework; Carbon sequestration of farm trees; Agroforestry enterprise and trading; Commercial Agroforestry Models; Valuation of Agroforestry Models;  Linking Small farmers to carbon finance; Agroforestry and agro-ecotourism; Agroforestry for livelihood supporting projects and activities; Agro-biodiversity conservation; Agroforestry and Ecosystem Services; Energy and Biomass plantation, Dendro-biomass energy, Novel tree plantations (Nutri Ayur) etc.

 

HOW TO TAKE ADMISSION IN AGROFORESTRY PROGRAMMES?

The admission/selection procedure for the Master’s in agroforestry, one can apply after completion of graduation in Forestry/Agriculture/Plant sciences etc directly in SAUs or other Institutes/Universities through their respective entrance examination or process of their selection. ICAR conducts an All India Entrance Examination for Admission (AIEEAPG) in consultation with NTA (National Testing Agency) and top rankers get ICAR PG Scholarship while those who qualify get National Talent Scholarship (NTS- PG) to master’s degree programme at all the SAUs, CAUs in the field of Agriculture and allied sciences including Agroforestry. Similarly, for Ph.D. one can take admission in the SAUs or other Institutes/Universities directly as per the norm of the Institutes/Universities or ICAR- AICE-JRF/SRF for taking admission in SAUs, CAUs and DUs by ICAR. ICAR entrusted to the NTA(National Testing Agency) for AIEEAand award of scholarships and fellowships from 2019 onwards.  The National Eligibility Test (NET) in Agroforestry is being conducted for lectureship by Agricultural Scientist Recruitment Board (ASRB) of ICAR, Pusa, New Delhi twice a year by NTA. The details can be seen at- www.icar.org.in

 

JOB OPPORTUNITIES FOR AGROFORESTRY PROFESSIONALS

Though agroforestry professionals can tap all the opportunities which are available to plant science experts they have an edge over diverse job opportunities in the present time in agriculture, forestry and Natural Resource management sectors. The agroforestry professionals having master’s degree and NET or Ph.D. can join the national and international University/institution as faculty members, Scientists and Research Officers. The international organizations and agencies recruit experienced agroforestry professionals’ in very lucrative salary viz UNDP, IUCN, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, CIFOR, ITTO, OXFAM, ICIMOD etc. In the livelihood projects the agro-foresters are preferred as Project Managers or Coordinators. Agroforestry professionals are also getting opportunity in banking sector as Agriculture Officers, Rural Development Officers and Extension Officers in banking agencies like NABARD, Syndicate bank, PNB, SBI, etc. and premier private banks such as Axis bank, HDFC bank, ICICI bank etc. The agroforestry professionals can start their own enterprise or start-up or Agroforestry incubation center related to Plant production center/ Nursery, Agri-business, Agri-clinic, Sericulture, vermiculture, Apiculture, Lac culture etc. The job opportunities are available in Plantation companies, wood based industries or plywood, paper & pulp, furniture & interior, Wood decorators & curators, wood treatment plants depending on their field of specialization. The professionals can be recruited in tree Based Industries like Katha Industry, Resin and Turpentine Industry, Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Units, Other Wood Products Industries etc. The industries namely ITC, Green ply wood industry, Century paper mill, Star paper mills, ITC Bhadrachalam paper boards limited, JK paper limited, Ballarpur Industries limited (BilT), Orient paper mills, WIMCO match Industry etc require professionally qualified managers having expertise in forestry and agroforestry to run their industries.  Forest College and Research Institute (TNAU), Mettupalyam, Tamilnadu has formed Industrial Agroforestry consortium and also created an agroforestry incubator (MAFBIF) for enterprising the agroforestry. Scope for agroforestry professional in the tea and coffee boards, rubber board, Chincona board, Bamboo and Agroforestry Board, Forest corporations, MFP forums, Watershed progrmme and related companies and mission projects are also expanding. The Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) or INGOs, CBOs working in rural sector, livelihood and plantation also recruiting the agroforestry personnel namely PRADAN, Srijan, CPF, CAPART, BAIF, Aagakhan, etc. The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) sector is also a potential area for getting job opportunities to agroforestry professionals.

 

SOME INDIAN UNIVERSITIES AND INSTITUTIONS FOR HIGHER EDUCATION IN AGROFORESTRY *

  • Tamilnadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, Tamilnadu
  • Y.S. Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry, Nauni Solan, Himachal Pradesh
  • VCSG Uttrakhand University of Horticulture and Forestry, Bharsar, Pauri Garhwal, UK
  • Navsari Agricultural University, Navsari, Gujara
  • Sher-E- Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Srinagar, J & K
  • Sher-E- Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Jammu, J & K.
  • Kerala Agricultural University Vellanikkara, Trichur, Kerala
  • Birsa Agicultural University, Kanke, Ranchi, Jharkhand
  • University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, Karnataka
  • University of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences, Shimoga, Karnataka
  • Indira Gandhi Krishi Vishwavidyalaya Raipur, Chhattisgarh
  • Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University, Hisar, Haryana
  • Punjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth, P O Krishinagar, Akola, Maharastra
  • Maharana Pratap University of Agricultural and Technology, Udaipur, Rajasthan
  • Agriculture University, Kota, Rajasthan (CoHF, Jhalawar)
  • Sam Higginbottom University of Agriculture, Tech. and Sci. (SHUATS), Allahabad, UP
  • D. University of Agriculture and Technology, Kumarganj, Faizabad, UP
  • Uttar Banga Krishi Viswavidyalaya, Coochbihar, West Bengal
  • Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, Punjab
  • Central Agricultural University, Imphal (CoHF, Passighat)
  • Rani Laximbai Central Agricultural University, Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh
  • Forest Research Institute (DU), Dehradun, Uttarakhand
  • N.B. Garhwal Central University Srinagar Garhwal, Uttarakhand
  • Bundelkhand University, Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh
  • Guru Ghasidas Central University, Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh
  • Indian Institute Forest Management, Bhopal, M.P.
  • Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh

 

*The above list is indicative Dr. Arvind Bijalwan teaches at College of Forestry, VCSG UUHF Ranichauri, Tehri Garhwal, Uttarakhand, Dr. Manmohan JR Dobriyal teaches at College of Horticulture and Forestry, RLB Central Agricultural University, Jhansi, UP and Dr. Tarun Kumar Thakur teaches at IGNTU, Amarkantak, MP, India.  E.mailarvindbijalwan276@gmail.com Views expressed are personal

 

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