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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More