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Matching livelihood needs to tree selection in high potential farming systems: Lessons from participatory research in Nepal and India

Research report

Research report

A participatory crop improvement project in Gujarat, India and the Terai, Nepal, funded by the Department for International Development and co-ordinated by the Centre for Arid Zone Studies, University of Wales, is improving crop production and tree use in areas where people have low incomes, but where the production potential is high. Surveys conducted by the project suggest that the last five years have seen significant changes in certain livelihood strategies, including an increase in biogas and crop residues as a fuel source, a shift from open grazing to stallfeeding and increases in the use of fodder crops and crop residues as livestock feed. The surveys also revealed a marked shortage of fuelwood. Conclusions are drawn on the future viability of‘trees on farms’ as a strategy to meet the demand for fuel and livestock feed. An associated participatory tree selection methodology is presented. The approach incorporates lessons from the project’s initial participatory crop improvement methodology—namely combining local plant material with a scientific search outside the local area—to improve the chances of introducing trees in ways which are viable as a livelihood strategy.

M Warner, PG Bezkorowajnyj, RB Rana and JR Witcombe