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The future of perennial tree crops : What role for agroforestry?

Omont H., Nicolas D., Russel D.. 2006. In : Garrity Dennis P. (ed.), Okono Antonia (ed.), Grayson Michelle (ed.), Parrott Sue (ed.). World agroforestry into the future. Nairobi : World Agroforestry Centre, p. 23-35.

Perennial tree crops play a fundamental role in the economies of many of the least developed countries in the tropics where they occupy millions of hectares and few alternative agricultural enterprises exist. They can be a major factor in local poverty alleviation, and global demand for such tree products as chocolate, coffee and rubber continues to grow. Today smallholders produce 80-95% of tree products. As perennial landscape features tree crops can impact land tenure and provide many of the biodiversity and soil protection functions of natural forests. They rarely compete with food crops and by incorporating valuable intercropped annual or perennial species they can provide the basis for productive agroforestry systems.Perennial tree crops currently face many problems, including product price instability, increased industrial concentration within certain commodity chains, withdrawal of state support and weak research efforts. Neither past attempts to regulate trade nor more recent market liberalization has stabilized prices for their products. Producers now need to focus more on diversifying and increasing product quality to ensure more stable incomes. Few poor countries currently have the resources to help producers diversify, and increasingly it will be up to farmer organizations to attract investments from the private sector by improving their product quality. Even the most complex and diverse tree crop/agroforestry systems are generally not very intensive and are often low-yielding. There is potential to increase the range and quality of their products and services. Since most perennial tree crops are produced on smallholdings, social concerns must be taken as seriously as economic and technical aspects. Research is needed on diversifying plantations and the agronomic effects of tree shading, as well as on building the capacity of farmer groups and focusing on commodity quality, certification and value addition. Land tenure regulations, taxes and funding must be addressed. It is also important to promote examples of existing industries that have successfully diversified their outputs while maintaining the quality and supply of the main commodity. (Résumé d'auteur)

Thématique : Systèmes et modes de culture

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