Supporting associations

Shisham Tree: Master of the Soils

Ensuring sustainable use of the shisham, an Indian tree known as "master of the soils", to improve living conditions of local people

Shisham Tree: Master of the Soils

Project leader
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The Project and its Challenges

Since 2011, the Earthworm Foundation has been helping farmers in the Punjab and Haryana regions of India, where forests have almost disappeared, to plant shisham trees while increasing their incomes.  Replaced by fast-growing species such as eucalyptus and poplar, which are more profitable in the short term, shisham is a useful tree for several reasons.

In addition to its medicinal effects, it helps to regenerate soils damaged by plant protection products used on farmland and may be combined with other species in agroforestry models.

To demonstrate the long-term usefulness of shisham to farmers, the project includes a village and school awareness-raising programme to pass on knowledge of the importance of the tree to future generations. The Earthworm Foundation also helps farmers transition to natural farming, a holistic agricultural approach that uses local resources to enrich soils and protect them from disease, promoting biodiversity on farmland and reducing reliance on plant protection products.

In ten years, these programmes have already helped to plant more than 155,000 trees and supported 2417 farmers across 269 villages, with the involvement of 50 people in plant production and planting projects.


Thanks to financial support from the Maisons du Monde Foundation between 2016 and 2021, the association has carried out various actions to increase support for farmers as they build sustainable agricultural businesses.


Review of the results of the main partnership actions:

  • Creation of an agroforestry model centred around the shisham tree in order to reforest and restore soils and biodiversity with the establishment of three nurseries for the cultivation of more than 20,000 plants per year to be planted on farmers’ plots.
  • Support for farmers to become economically resilient by integrating 80 to 100 farmers per year and per region.
  • Awareness-raising and communication on the importance of these trees and of ecological agriculture with the distribution of more than 1500 flyers each year, the organisation of awareness-raising events and an educational programme for schools, with 20 schools targeted per year.


The association’s partnership with the MDM Foundation is being renewed for a new three-year cycle in order to strengthen the involvement and empowerment of local populations, with the aim of improving soil and biodiversity restoration.


The performance targets for 2022–2024 are as follows:

  • To increase community engagement and income generation by setting up women’s groups and implementing a capacity-building and training programme.
  • To improve soil quality and biodiversity restoration by planting 20,000 trees of various species per year, as well as integrating and training more than 100 farmers per year.
  • To identify preventive and corrective measures against shisham diseases in partnership with the Punjab Agricultural University.
  • To implement a community outreach and communication programme on the importance of the tree.


Beneficiaries of the Project

Through this project, 100 Punjab and Haryana farmers will be integrated and trained each year for three years and supported by the Earthworm Foundation for the planting of shisham and other woody and fruit tree species. Children are also made aware of the importance of conserving trees through educational workshops. Women are also integrated as part of the new partnership cycle.

The "Pros" of the Project

The Earthworm Foundation’s approach is based on providing long-term support and education to farmers and their families. It is a matter of consolidating the trust earned during the first 10 years of the programme to demonstrate the long-term benefits of planting shisham. Thanks to the planting programme, the pressure on shisham is reduced, its value is recognised, and farmers and women can improve their living conditions through soil regeneration.

“We really enjoyed meeting the TFT staff and especially the farmers involved in the program. They were truly interested in learning about the importance of the soil and the best practices to develop microbiological activity and enhance the soil. They asked us a lot of questions and really tried to come up with alternative eco-friendly solutions”

Claude et Lydia Bourguignon soil microbiologists and authors of many books on the subject
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Project leader Earthworm Foundation

Earthworm Foundation (previously The Forest Trust (TFT) ) is an international non-profit organisation helping transform supply chains. It leads projects on sustainable forest management in the countries where the resources is exploited. Earthworm Foundation and its local staff help ensure the involvement of local communities in these projects for the preservation and responsible exploitation of timber resources.