Greening India's Wastelands with Agroforestry (GROW)

Greening India's Wastelands with Agroforestry (GROW)

GROW report and portal | Agroforestry Suitability Index (ASI)

Table of contents

Imagine vast stretches of barren wastelands transformed into flourishing ecosystems teeming with life. That's the ambitious vision behind GROW, a multi-institutional initiative driven by NITI Aayog, leveraging technology and collaboration to green and restore India's landscapes.

  • GROW stands for Greening and Restoration of Wasteland with Agroforestry, and it's poised to be a game-changer in the country's fight against land degradation and climate change.
  • GROW report and portal was launched on 12 February 2024  by NITI Aayog.
Bhuvan | GROW Report | UPSC

This multi-institutional effort led by NITI Aayog utilized remote sensing and GIS to assess agroforestry suitability across all districts in India.

What Exactly is GROW?

GROW is a comprehensive effort that utilizes remote sensing, GIS, and thematic datasets to assess the suitability of agroforestry across all districts in India.

  • This assessment culminates in the creation of the Agroforestry Suitability Index (ASI), a valuable tool for national-level prioritization.
  • The project doesn't stop there; it also generates reports for individual states and districts, empowering government departments and private players to target their greening and restoration efforts effectively.

What is Agroforestry?

Agroforestry (or agro-sylviculture) is a land use management system in which combinations of trees or shrubs are grown around or among crops or pastureland.

Agroforestry combines agricultural and forestry technologies to create more diverse, productive, profitable, healthy, and sustainable land-use systems

Agroforestry | GROW Report | UPSC

The GROW Portal: Unveiling India's Agroforestry Potential

To ensure universal access to this crucial information, GROW has launched the Bhuvan portal, a one-stop platform for state and district-level ASI data.

The "Greening and Restoration of Wasteland with Agroforestry (GROW)-Suitability Mapping" portal Bhuvan allows universal access to state and district-level data.

This transparency allows diverse stakeholders – from policymakers to communities – to visualize the potential of agroforestry in their specific regions.

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Multifaceted Benefits of GROW

The current report highlights that India's existing agroforestry footprint covers 8.65% of its land, presenting immense potential for expansion.

Agroforestry suitability map of India | GROW Report | UPSC

By converting underutilized areas, particularly wastelands, into agroforestry systems, GROW promises a multitude of benefits:

  • Reduced Dependence on Wood Imports: Growing domestic timber through agroforestry can curb India's reliance on external sources, bolstering economic self-sufficiency.
  • Enhanced Carbon Sequestration: Trees are natural carbon sinks, and widespread agroforestry implementation can significantly contribute to India's climate change mitigation goals.
  • Addressing Land Use Imbalances: GROW encourages the productive use of fallow and culturable wastelands, optimizing land management practices.

Alignment with National and Global Commitments

The initiative firmly aligns with India's national commitments, including restoring 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030 and creating an additional carbon sink of 2.5 to 3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

Furthermore, GROW resonates with global initiatives like the Paris Agreement, Bonn Challenge, and UN Sustainable Development Goals, showcasing India's proactive stance on environmental issues.

A Collaborative Effort for Lasting Impact

The GROW project wouldn't be possible without the collaboration of various institutions:

  • NITI Aayog: Providing leadership and strategic direction.
  • NRSC: Employing geospatial technologies for mapping and prioritization.
  • ICAR-CAFRI, NABARD, CIFOR-ICRAF: Offering technical expertise and promoting agroforestry practices.

The Road Ahead: Scaling Up Agroforestry for a Greener Future

While the launch of GROW marks a significant step, scaling up agroforestry across India necessitates continued efforts.

  • Raising awareness, providing farmer training, and incentivizing participation are crucial aspects of ensuring long-term success.
  • With sustained commitment and collaborative action, GROW holds immense potential to transform India's landscapes, fostering environmental sustainability and a brighter future for its communities.
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