AgricultureFaculty of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences UPM

Identification of Tropical and Semitropical Agroforestry

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Agroforestry is a land use management system in which trees or shrubs are grown around or among crops or pastureland. Agroforestry is implemented in each country for environmental stability and receives higher productivity by applying technology tools. Each country’s location in relation to the equator line is affected by a variety of factors that include climate, humidity, topography, and temperature. The agroforestry system used in the tropics is different from the subtropics, where the humidity level is higher due to the hot and wet seasons. In contrast, subtropical regions experience hot and wet seasons in a shorter period than the dry season. Due to these variations, each country adopts a different type of agroforestry system. To know about these systems, we would like to take the examples of Malaysia and Thailand as tropical countries and Spain and Taiwan as subtropical countries.

Tropical Agroforestry (Malaysia and Thailand)

The monoculture system is a tropical agroforestry technique that is frequently utilized in Malaysia. Malaysia is the world’s largest palm oil exporter and second-largest producer. Some communities propose the agroforestry system as a solution to the problems caused by the palm oil monoculture agriculture technique. It is a sustainable land use choice that can increase production and is good for the well-being of rural communities. In Malaysia, agroforestry methods frequently involve the integration of palm oil crops with livestock. Because of the scarcity of agricultural land in Malaysia, this integration is known as the silvopastoral subsystem. A dynamic system in which the combination of agricultural crops, plants, and animal species can boost the efficacy of natural resource utilization, increasing employment and revenue, and improving pragmatic production systems.

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Monoculture plantation Malaysia

Thailand is known as the world’s biggest rubber producer. But here the monoculture rubber plantation causes the biodiversity losses. To sustain biodiversity and to avoid erosion, the farmers take initiative to apply mixed or multi-species cropping system. They treat their old rubber trees as nursery trees and add mixed crop that give them constant income. The mixed species include Alstonia spp., bamboos, oaks, ironwood and some more that also help to hold the soil structure and avoid soil erosion. This kind of trees can be sold for extra income or self-use for the house construction. They also grow mangosteen, jackfruit, coconut, and other fruit crops that can be sold to gain more income or consume by themselves. Besides that, their rubber trees still can produce more latex than younger trees. By practicing agroforestry, it can provide job security, food security, food safety, economic security and health. By looking at the benefits, many farmers across the Mekong region have been motivated to practice agroforestry.

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Agroforestry area in Thailand, mixed or multi-species cropping system

Semitropical Agroforestry (Spain and Taiwan)

In semi-tropical country, the Dehesa (A Spanish agroforestry farming system) method is quite popular and it has been practiced as an agroforestry system in Spain.  Dehesa’s method focuses on farming and forestry at the same time, which is beneficial for the farmer and the variety of wildlife nearby the landscape. This system is managed in the form of the low density of woodland in which trees are an integral part of a farmed landscape grazed by cattle, pigs, and sheep. Based on local production and processing of a variety of agricultural and forestry products, Dehesa supports strongly the rural economy. This man-made harmonious effort is beneficial for all organisms that live near the landscape. This system not only supports the farmers but also leads to the natural environment protection against climate change. So, it is recommended that this system is suitable to be practiced in many countries that working on achieving the sustainability of long-term resource use.

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Planted trees together with the existence of animals or livestock (Spain).

In Taiwan, Tayal ethnic mostly depends on farming. This community practices agrisilviculture system (cultivation of crops and trees). This ethnic group has been practicing traditional slash and burn method in agroforestry system. Furthermore, other traditional activity like barter system, gathering of wild mushroom and fungus has also been put into practice. The Tayal community started to practice organic farming in 1990 and later incorporated the forestry with it. The Tayal ethnic are blessed with ecological knowledge which has been inherited for ages such as minimal environmental damage in the form of selecting farming site. The combination of organic farming with forestry, help in nutrient cycling and protect the organic farms from soil erosion and chemical pollution. Lastly Tayal people are also aware of the agroforestry benefits such as conserving water and ecological well-being.

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Tayal people cultivating organic farming under forest cover (Taiwan)

By Muhammad Ajmal Bin Mahmud, Nurzayanah ‘Adilah Binti Mohd Zain, Elizabert Clement,Eliani Binti Idrus, Adib Hafiizhullah Bin Mohamad Prim Nasir and Waseem Razzaq Khan

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Identification of Tropical and Semitropical Agroforestry (PowerPoint Presentation)

Click HERE to Download Agroforestry Systems in Tropics: A Critical Review (Power Point Presentation)

Naeem Javid Muhammad Hassani is working as Conservator of Forests in Balochistan Forest & Wildlife Department (BFWD). He is the CEO of Tech Urdu ( Forestrypedia (, All Pak Notifications (, Essayspedia, etc & their YouTube Channels). He is an Environmentalist, Blogger, YouTuber, Developer & Vlogger.

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