News / Science & Technology

Indian Farmers Fighting Pollution One Tree at a Time

Indian Farmers Fight Pollution One Tree at a Timei
X
August 30, 2013 9:52 PM
Farmers in India are planting trees on their land to not only earn extra income but also help fight climate change. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more on how the South Asian country is seeking to take the lead in agroforestry.
Aru Pande
To anyone else, the patches of poplar and eucalyptus trees that dot the flat, green landscape of Indri are just added greenery.

But to farmer Chaudhry Sukhvir Singh, the trees are a fixed deposit.
 
"The biggest benefit is that I can plant these trees and then earn other income on the side. It’s like money being put in the bank. Anytime I need money for anything, I can cut these down and get my work done," Singh said as he removed weeds near a young sapling.

In a few years, the 500 poplar trees planted on Singh’s property in the northern state of Haryana will eventually earn him $15,000 when they are mature, cut down and sold to local plywood factories.

The farmer is among several hundred who receive support and guidance from the Nairobi-based World Agroforestry Center. The organization promotes sustainable agriculture by encouraging farmers to plant trees that produce fruit, timber, biodiesel and rubber.

In the 200-kilometer radius that stretches across Haryana, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh states, some 750,000 hectares of land are being used for agroforestry projects, with trees planted right along side crops such as rice. The center hopes to have 12 to 15 million hectares of land across India under agroforestry systems in the next decade.

  • Farmers Chaudhry Sukhvir Singh and Chaudhry Singh at a farm near the town of Indri in India's Haryana state. (Aru Pande/VOA)
  • Poplar trees planted among rice plants at a farm near the town of Indri in India's Haryana state. (Aru Pande/VOA)
  • Poplar trees planted on farm near the town of Indri in India's Haryana state. (Aru Pande/VOA)
  • A farm near the town of Indri in India's Haryana state. (Aru Pande/VOA)
  • Farmer Chaudhry Rajinder Singh tending to cattle at a farm near the town of Indri in India's Haryana state. (Aru Pande/VOA)

World Agroforestry Center Director General Tony Simons said agroforestry was key in the South Asian country, which only has about 20 percent forest cover.
 
"Here we have a country with 16 percent of the world’s population, 20 percent of the world’s livestock on only two percent of the world’s land and using four percent of the world’s fresh water, so we have got a problem there of sustainability," said Simons.

In India, like many other countries, more and more forests and even agricultural land are being lost to development. 

"Trees are being cut, forests are being removed and the land is becoming barren.  The target in India, for example, was that there should be 33 percent vegetation cover on the land," said World Agroforestry Center South Asia Director Virender Pal Singh. 

He added, "there are states like Punjab and Haryana where the forest land is not 33 percent so how are we going to meet it?  That can be met only when you bring the trees on the farm."

With agroforestry, farmers plant trees without affecting the growth of crops, such as wheat and sugarcane. Singh said the plants actually benefitted from improved soil fertility and water retention.

"We are getting stable productivity, a cleaner environment, increasing income, so our feeling in the country is that agroforestry is probably the only way for meeting the economic and livelihood challenges, as well as addressing the challenges of climate change," he said.

On a hot summer day like this one, farmer Chaudhry Rajender Singh feels the benefits of the microclimate his trees help create - as a cool breeze cuts through the humid air.

"There are two benefits. Pollution is less. A few days ago it was so hot, I just came and stood here [under the trees].  And we also get income from them," he said.

The World Agroforestry Center says 64 percent of India’s timber requirement is currently being met from agroforestry systems and not from forests. The organization is working with countries in Africa and Southeast Asia in hopes they will follow suit.

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs