Several tribal communities live in hill and forest terrains of Odisha province of India practice an age old agriculture on hill slopes through slash and burn type of cultivation, damaging the forest cover, its regeneration and causing massive soil erosion. They keep on shifting to newer patches for better production every two years thereby causing large scale damage to the flora and fauna. This can be prevented by adopting agro-forestry model on the denuded hill slopes.
The issue is multidimensional. To meet the food security tribal community practice a very unsustainable yet subsistence and environmentally damaging agricultural practice as they don't have alternatives. Thus, a carefully designed intervention on Agro-forestry in two acres of hill slope can address the food security , and income enhancement of a family along with Eco-system restoration for the community at large.
The land on hill slopes shall be converted into different levels of terraces through bonding and trenching to prevent soil erosion and promote in-situ. The top 30% of the slope shall be covered with plantation of forest and horticultural species; next 30% shall be covered with medium term horticultural species and the lowest 30% shall be covered with millets pulses, and vegetables. This will address the food and nutritional security, income enhancement and environment conservation.
This model is well tested, though not popular in India, and can be a real game changer for the tribal communities living in the hill terrains in ensuring their livelihoods on sustainable basis in term of food and nutritional security, income enhancement, improvement in the quality of life, regeneration of natural resource base and restoration of ecosystem. This can be a role model for rest of the indigenous communities living in similar landscape.