To bring ecological and economic benefits to cotton-farming communities, IDH is co-funding an agroforestry project in Pakistan, along with IKEA, with a special focus on livelihood improvement of rural women.
The project is being implemented in Khanewal and Bahawalpur districts of Punjab. Major livelihood activities in this region include cotton picking, wheat harvesting, animal rearing, stitching, embroidering, and other field works. The area comprises of low-value agricultural land, irrigated through seasonal canal water and tube-wells.
The aim of the project is to create alternate livelihood activities for vulnerable rural women which can serve as economic buffers against different climatic and social calamities in the region. The first phase of the project will be completed in December 2020.
At the field level, the project is being implemented by WWF Pakistan, which is working with the community to create carbon sinks through integration of agroforestry into agricultural lands. This would harness the effectiveness of the agricultural system through conservation of natural resources such as soil, nutrients, water, and biodiversity along with livelihood improvement of cotton-farming communities to earn additional income from the trees planted.
In 2020, the project aims to:
- reclaim degraded land in the region
- plant at least 100,000 plants on farms of cotton growers
- Reach out to 1000 farmers to integrate trees in cropping system
- work towards skill development of 500 rural women on alternate income generation activities, such as kitchen gardening, micro-nurseries, apiculture, and sericulture through 15 women groups
- establish 10 micro-nurseries for livelihood improvement and ensuring availability of tree stocks
So far, 64 acres of low valued agriculture land has been identified for block plantation and fruit orchards, with 20 varieties of different fruits, are being developed to ensure produce throughout the year. In order to track the health of planted saplings, pictures of the block plantations are taken at regular intervals. The project also aims towards skill development and gender empowerment through women-led enterprises of honeybee culture and fruit preservation along with kitchen gardening.