Designing agroforestry systems for greater economic viability and resilience


Authors: Bas Louman, Juan Manuel Moya, Jinke van Dam, Gabija Pamerneckyte, Tommaso Comuzzi, Tran Huu Nghi, Tran Nam Thang, Rosalien Jezeer and Maartje de Graaf

General - 2024

ISSUE No.: 62


Language: English


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Agroforestry is recognised for its capacity to promote climate change mitigation and adaptation, but adoption rates remain lower than expected, necessitating an exploration into the economic viability of agroforestry practices. Key economic variables influencing the viability of agroforestry include benefits, costs, labour and farmers' risk profiles. Benefits of agroforestry include increased income and food security, and stability and resilience against market fluctuations and adverse weather conditions. Costs, both direct - fixed (land) and variable (fertiliser) - and indirect, are high to begin with but more established agroforestry systems ultimately provide cost-savings. Labour is more intensive in agroforestry than in monoculture farming, but agroforestry farmers work under cooler conditions thanks to shade trees. A farmers' risk perception is influenced by socioeconomic factors, market fluctuations and environmental conditions, but the risk posed by market price fluctuations can be mitigated through diversification. Models are used to analyse the economic viability of agroforestry systems, considering factors such as crop combinations, labour requirements and market conditions. Farmers’ knowledge of the economic performance of agroforestry systems must be improved upon, but their approval of model scenarios depends upon local contexts and perceptions being understood and respected. Only then will the sustainable adoption and scaling up of agroforestry practices improve.

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