The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries recognises the value in testing and implementing new and innovative land use systems, one of which is Agroforestry. Agroforestry is a land use system that includes the use of woody perennials and agricultural crops and / or animals in combination to achieve beneficial ecological and economic interactions for food, fibre and livestock production.
While agroforestry is a practice that has been applied by farmers in the past, the dominance of monocropping systems in the twentieth resulted in the decline of many sustainable practices, including agroforestry. Well managed agroforestry systems provide multiple benefits and contribute to improved livelihoods and income generation while providing a range of positive environmental outcomes, including climate resilience, carbon sequestration and landscape rehabilitation.
This agroforestry strategy framework was developed by the INR in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) through a process information review, key stakeholder interviews and extensive stakeholder engagement. The research found that agroforestry improves water use and water quality, while reducing erosion and improving soil health, along with improved biological diversity and ecological benefits. From a climate change perspective, agroforestry systems increase carbon sequestration by the soil, contributing to climate change mitigation, while also contributing to climate change adaptation by supporting diversified and resilient land use practices. Livelihood and food security advantages were also noted, arising from improved soil nutrient and water status and diversification of crops, resulting in a range of economic benefits, including higher income and reduced risk.
Importantly, a working definition for agroforestry in South Africa, was also developed, which is:
“Agroforestry is a sustainable land management system that deliberately includes woody plants with crops and / or animals within the same land management unit resulting in positive socio-economic and / or ecological interactions between the woody and non-woody components; and is applied in a manner and scale that is compatible with the local cultural, socio-economic and agro-ecological context.”
The vision of the strategy is to achieve the integration and mainstreaming of agroforestry as an accepted land use that contributes to food security, improved livelihoods and income generation while building resilient, climate smart systems that sustain our natural resources. The three pillars of the strategy are (1) the enabling environment, (2) knowledge development and (3) putting agroforestry into practice.