Main content area

Evolution of agroforestry based farming systems: a study of Dhanusha District, Nepal

Dhakal, Arun, Cockfield, Geoff, Maraseni, Tek Narayan
Agroforestry systems 2012 v.86 no.1 pp. 17-33
agroforestry, extension programs, farm inputs, farm labor, farm size, focus groups, forest trees, forests, fruit crops, labor force, land use change, species diversity, vegetable crops, Nepal
This paper examines how agroforestry-based farming systems evolved in the Dhanusha district of Nepal following the conversion of forest into agriculture during the early 1950s. Some data are from two focus group discussions with agroforestry farmers and one meeting with agroforestry experts. The farmers’ discussion traced the development of farming practices from 1950 to 2010 to identify the drivers of land use change. The experts’ discussion resulted in a scale to differentiate the prevailing farming systems in the study area considering five key components of agroforestry: agricultural crops, livestock, forest tree crops, fruit tree crops and vegetable crops. Data related to the system components were collected from the randomly selected households. The study reveals that land use had generally changed from very simple agriculture to agroforestry, triggered by infrastructure development, technological innovations, institutional support (subsidies and buy-back guarantees) and extension programs. A range of farming systems with varying degrees of integration was evident in the study area: simple agriculture; less integrated agroforestry; semi-integrated agroforestry and highly integrated agroforestry. The three types of agroforestry systems, which are the focus of this study, varied significantly in terms of farm size, cropping intensity, use of farm inputs, tree species diversity, tree density, home to forest distance and agricultural labour force.