Agroforestry in rice-production landscapes in Southeast Asia – a practical manual
This manual has been created for rural advisors and agricultural extension workers to help them guide farmers in the integration of trees into farms in rice-production landscapes, whether rainfed, irrigated, upland or lowland.
There is a growing interest from regional and local governments and others in agri- business development and environmental management to implement agroforestry practices as a means to strengthen farmers’ resilience to climate change, as well as to fluctuations in market prices and crop yields. Trees provide benefits throughout the year and over many decades that help to spread both economic and environmental risks. We know that by integrating trees, farmers’ food and nutrition security and incomes increase and this helps nations in the region achieve their agreed contributions and commitments to the ASEAN Vision and Plan for Food, Agriculture and Forestry 2016–2025.
The manual sets out the steps to follow to ensure success. While it covers many of the aspects of designing, planning and maintaining productive and resilient rice and agroforestry systems, it is still quite general because people have modified their practices over time using their own unique knowledge and skills in response to the particular conditions of the landscape. The wider social and political environment is likewise unique to each country and changes over time in response to internal and external influences. Accordingly, advisors will likely need to seek more detailed, specialist knowledge — from international, national and local agricultural, agroforestry and forestry experts and leading farmers — to apply it to the particular landscapes in which they work. Rural advisors and agricultural extension workers using this manual have their own detailed knowledge of the landscapes and people in which they work. They should also consider themselves as facilitators who bring together all the people who have an interest in a particular landscape to share their knowledge, experience, hopes and concerns so as to achieve results. Even rice mono-cropping is a complex interplay of different people and physical elements; adding trees increases the complexity and the need to work together in different ways to optimize the synergies and minimize the interference between crops and trees.
The manual is organized into three sections. The first gives a background on agroforestry and on the benefits its integration into rice-production landscapes can provide to farmers. It also introduces the challenges facing rice production in Southeast Asia, particularly, those caused by climate change, and how trees can help reduce the risks faced by farmers and those who rely on them. The second section provides guidance on how to design, plan and manage trees and rice together towards integrated agroforestry landscapes. Necessarily, the section focuses on trees because we assume that this topic will be mostly new to advisors working in rice-production landscapes. The third section discusses the role of advisors and community facilitators and how they can best serve farmers to achieve mutual objectives towards integrated farming landscapes.
We recommend you read the entire manual from start to finish before setting out to integrate trees in your rice-production landscape. We also advise you to read the more detailed material suggested in the References and Further Reading section and to seek more knowledge from other organizations and leading farmers specialized in the various technologies and knowledge that are important for your particular landscape and people. Finally, we hope you will consider how your own personal knowledge and skills can be adapted to the challenge ahead and who else you will need to support you in your work. Landscapes face complex challenges and if we all share our particular personal assets together we can meet the challenges and optimize the benefits.
Wangpakapattanawong, P., Finlayson, R., Öborn, I., Roshetko, J.M., Sinclair, F., Shono, K., Borelli, S., Hillbrand, A. & Conigliaro, M. (eds.) (2017). Agroforestry in rice-production landscapes in Southeast Asia: a practical manual. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok, Thailand & World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Southeast Asia Regional Program, Bogor, Indonesia.