Box 62 The Gotsch agroforestry system

The agroforestry approach developed by Ernst Gotsch in subtropical north-eastern Brazil has been adapted widely by several development projects in South America. The principle of the Gotsch approach is to make use of natural succession dynamics to achieve an abundant and diverse production while maintaining soil fertility without fertilizer and chemical use and without the need to fight disease or pests. Priority is given to a wide range of annual and perennial food crops and fruits adapted to the specific local ecological conditions. The tree component is less important. Typical crop species are rice, corn, beans, tomato, manioc, papaya, banana, cacao, coffee, citrus trees, palms and legumes as well as mahogany and other high-value timber species. All species are planted at high densities to respond effectively to all niches in the ecosystem. When the growth of one species declines another species take over. Weeding occurs selectively. Regular pruning adds more organic material to the system and regulates the light available for the development of different plant groups. The system is expected to contribute to the long-term stability of the ecosystem and the maintenance of biodiversity while also providing continuous opportunities for cash income. The Gotsch system requires considerable expertise (Milz, 1998).

land-use practices from the farmers (Hoch, 2009).

Principally, initial and continuous support strategies can be distinguished (Hoch, 2009). A key element of initial support strategies is the distribution of tree seedlings produced in large nurseries. Initial support initiatives often provide technical guidelines, occasionally technical assistance and, in a few cases, financial incentives for planting. Support, however, is confined to the establishment phase. Most reforestation programmes fall in this category. Other organizations, often those involved in agroforestry projects, provide more continuous support through to the commercial phase. These continuous support initiatives normally manage to establish personal contacts with the families and often provide better-qualified assistance. Local demonstration plots are often set up and, in some cases, local people are engaged as extension agents. However, this more intensive support tends to concentrate on few, easily accessible families who often are economically better off.

Several governments and banks also support plantations with specific credit programmes. These initiatives usually have a commercial focus, and the funding agencies expect a financial return (Teixeira, 2005; Bacha, 2006). Nevertheless, in addition to offering favourable conditions to smallholders, they may also provide technical assistance. Frequently, these programmes are bureaucratic with relatively high transaction costs (Cacho et al, 2005). Consequently, this option is more appropriate for small entrepreneurs. Often donors combine rehabilitation and commercial goals in the expectation of creating win-win situations in so-called integrative projects (Box 6.3). Currently, the evolving CO2 market generates significant additional resources for this type of initiative (Montagnini and Nair, 2004; Larsson et al, 2007).

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