Lydia and Claude Bourguignon, soil microbiologists and authors of the book “Le sol, la Terre et les Champs” (La Manufacture/Sang de la Terre publishers), came to India to meet the farmers participating in the agroforestry programs of The Forest Trust (TFT) supported by the Maisons du Monde Foundation.
The forests have virtually disappeared in the regions of Punjab and Haryana, and the native shisham tree is endangered. It has been replaced by fast growing species such as eucalyptus and poplar.
Since 2011, the TFT has been helping farmers in the region plant trees while increasing their income, by managing the shisham timber resource and combining it with their food crops. Under the programs, more than 100,000 trees have been planted, benefiting 1548 farmers in 198 villages.
The work of the Bourguignons educated farmers about the vital link between the trees, soils and agricultural yields, and the TFT and Maisons du Monde decided to organise a visit last December to continue the awareness-raising efforts.
Over the course of 4 days, Claude and Lydia Bourguignon provided their field expertise to farmers wishing to understand the role of the soil and the soil-enhancing shisham tree in agricultural yields and biodiversity conservation.
The discussions continued at a conference on “Agroforestry, soil regeneration and organic farming”. This field visit also focused on TFT’s awareness-raising programs, such as the murals and educational meetings in schools about the vital importance of trees in the day-to-day lives of the people.