Many Indian farmers own degraded lands unsuitable for growing crops. For small farmers, this poses serious difficulties. They are barely able to earn enough from these wastelands to get by, let alone make the investments necessary to grow crops successfully, and so remain locked in poverty and debt.
ITC's Social Forestry programme focuses on creating commercially viable, profitable land use options for smallholder farmers through tree-based farming. This helps diversify incomes from land while fostering food, fodder and fuelwood security.
The programme is closely aligned to the 'National Agro-forestry Policy, 2014', which emphasises improvement in productivity; employment, incomes and livelihood opportunities. Farmers are assisted with high-yielding saplings specially developed by ITC R&D to grow under harsh conditions, especially for smallholder farmers. Through social and agroforestry initiatives, forestry self-help groups are formed, through which farmers are able to get loans, subsidised clonal stock, as well as technical support and training.
ITC's agroforestry interventions are spread across over 123,000 acres, while cumulatively, over 950,000 acres have been greened. Besides supporting about 160 million-person days of livelihoods for tribals and marginal farmers, ITC's forestry programmes have environmental benefits, and enable carbon sequestration, top soil retention, water recharge and biodiversity conservation.