Taungya system is defined as the planting of arable crops at early stages of forest establishment and the arable crops are harvested before the trees form canopies. In other words, taungya farming is a management practice which involves the planting of food crops and some forest trees at the same time until the canopy of the trees close up. It is a system which involves the integration of agriculture with forestry.
Conditions Necessary for the Practice of Taungya System
The conditions that may favour the practice of taungya system include:
- Scarcity of Land: Taungya system can easily be practised where land is scarce.
- Over-population: Land becomes scarce where there is over -population which can lead to the practice of the system.
- Unemployment: Mass underemployment or unemployment does lead people to practise taungya system.
- Government Policies: Government can put in place policies which will make people practise taungya system.
- Low Standard of Living: This factor does force people to resort to the practice of taungya system as a means of alternative way of increasing their standard of living.
- Granting of Incentive: Incentives such as loans to farmers can help them to take part in additional farming.
Advantages of Taungya Farming
- Variety of crops are harvested.
- There is the availability of crop produce throughout the year.
- When leguminous crops are used, the beneficial effect of root nodules increases soil fertility for the benefit of the forest trees.
- Where land is scarce, the farmer has a piece of land to cultivate.
- The young forest trees receive direct and indirect attention from the farmer.
- It increases the income of the farmer.
Farmers derive the benefit of:
- Using available fertile land for farming;
- Increased standard of living;
- Accessibility to forest products, e.g. dry wood for fuel;
- Employment of farmers in plantation activities other than initial raising of forest crops.
Foresters derive the benefit of
- Reduced cost of establishing plantation.
- More land is under forest cover;
- Weed control;
- Enrichment of soil nutrients when leguminous food crops are planted.
Disadvantages of Taungya Farming
- Reluctance in Releasing Fertile Soil: The forestry sector may be reluctant in releasing their fertile land to the agricultural sector for farming.
- Cultivation of Selected Crops: The system only allows the farmers to rear animals and cultivate biennial crops in the forest reserves.
- Competition Between Crops and Trees: Since crops and trees are grown together on the same piece of land, competition for space, water, nutrients, etc will exist between crops and forest trees.
- Monotony of Operations: The practice of taungya farming may be monotonous as the farmer performs the same operation every season.
- Inability of Some Crops to Survive: Most crops cultivated under taungya farming may not survive due to the invasion of some insects in the forest reserve.