The well-attended World Congress on Agroforestry (WCA) in New Delhi last week, with strong contingents from business, government, nonprofits and academia – and a blog that drew more than 35,000 readers – is the latest evidence of the huge momentum the concept has gained in recent years.
Of course agroforestry is not new: people have been growing food crops and trees together for millennia. But as the social and environmental costs of intensive farming and commercial forestry have become more evident, agroforestry has been widely embraced as a more sustainable alternative.
The big challenge now is how to scale up and intensify agroforestry systems without losing their unique benefits – most notably, their contributions to food security and nutrition.
One major strategy is to treat agroforestry as a business and improve farmers’ market access, working closely with the private sector. Two other widely discussed options are payments for environmental services, and carbon finance, which we have explored in our research.