President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday said agro-forestry requires innovative models to attract more investment as the sector is emerging as an environmentally sustainable food production system.

The President also presented Krishi Karman awards to seven states -- Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Manipur, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Jharkhand for their best efforts in increasing foodgrain output in 2012-13.

“Agro-forestry offers a significant opening in resetting priorities on farm sustainability....Inadequate investment, lack of suitable extension strategies and weak market linkages compound the woes of this sector,” Mr. Mukherjee said.

He was speaking at the Krishi Karman Award ceremony and World Agro-forestry Congress here.

“Rather than being discouraged by long gestation periods normally associated with agro-forestry projects, we need innovative models that encourage investment in this sector,” he said.

Agro-forestry development is hampered by lack of policy incentives, inadequate knowledge dissemination, legal constraints and poor coordination among its beneficiary sectors, he said.

Noting that agro-forestry is emerging as a major domain in environmentally sustainable food production system, Mr. Mukherjee said integration of farm and forest crops would not only prevents further land degradation but also ensures timber and firewood availability to rural population.

Since the sustainable farm production can have a decisive influence in eliminating hunger, the President called for greater research in agro-forestry.

Speaking on the occasion, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said the government has approved the National Agro-forestry Policy as the sector is playing an important role in maintaining the natural resource base and increasing the overall productivity in the rain fed areas in arid and semi-arid regions.

He said focus of agro-forestry is important as ever increasing human and livestock population would place greater demands on natural resources amid challenges of climate change and degradation of water and land.

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