Agroforestry Working Group Established to Empower Livelihood Enhancement in Sabah

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Source: WWF Malaysia / 21 July 2022

Photo (c) WWF-Malaysia
A working group on Agroforestry facilitated by WWF-Malaysia was established to support sustainable agriculture in the identification, planning and coordination of strategies in Sabah.


Kota Kinabalu: A working group comprising various agencies including Sabah Forestry Department, Forest Research Center, Department of Agriculture, Pertubuhan Peladang Kawasan Tawau, Korporasi Pembangunan Desa and World Wide Fund for Nature Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia) was established last Friday on Agroforestry to support sustainable agriculture in the identification, planning and coordination of strategies in Sabah. 

Other stakeholders include industry players such as Sawit Kinabalu Group and farmers group represented by Koperasi Nasib Kita, and Hamka Brothers (Ulu Kalumpang Agriculture Scheme). Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) and PACOS Trust, a community-based organisation dedicated to supporting indigenous communities in Sabah were also part of the working group.

The working group facilitated by WWF-Malaysia is aimed to understand the perspectives of different stakeholders on the potential of agroforestry implementation in Sabah as an alternative livelihood for smallholders and rural communities other than oil palm mono-crop, which supports food security, sustainable land use and potential for biofuel crops production through agroforestry system. Agroforestry is part of WWF-Malaysia Sabah Landscapes Programme’s forest restoration pillar. 

A nature-based solution to mono-cropping, agroforestry is a multiple land use system that mimics forest which combines agriculture and forestry practices into agricultural landscapes or farms. This comprises the integration of timber trees on farms with appropriate combinations of other different plant and tree species (indigenous fruit trees, feeds, food crops) and livestock, including along forest margins and riparian riverine to improve the protection of vulnerable areas, and heterogeneity of landscape.

Dr Faisal Mohd Noor, WWF-Malaysia Sabah Landscapes Programme Lead, during the workshop titled ‘Agroforestry+ and Potential of Implementation in Sabah’, emphasized the need to improve crop diversification in smallholder landscapes and reduce the dependency on a single crop in order to secure access to food mainly on vulnerable rural populations. 

“This includes the potential of integrating indigenous fast-grown timber species and permanent tree cover for carbon stock and Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) such as honey, local durians, damar, wildflowers, herbs and medicinal plants and many more,” he said while adding the need for stakeholder engagement, mainly between governmental agencies in pursuing the agenda on agroforestry development. 

Meanwhile, Sabah Forestry Department, Sustainable Forest Management Division chief Musa Salleh said, “the agroforestry implementation and development in Sabah needs full support mainly on the basic infrastructure development for both food crops and timber processing facilities in order to allow the community to participate fully in the supply chain.” He added that the State needs an agency to lead agroforestry development in Sabah.

The one-day interactive workshop attended by 26 participants held in Tawau was part of the activity to support a feasibility study by WWF-Malaysia to assess site suitability for agroforestry implementation in Sabah including identifying an optimal model of agroforestry system to be implemented. This among others looks at the best integration of trees, and food crops, including biofuel crops like tapioca as value-added into the system. 

Speakers include Assistant Director at Department of Agriculture, Puan Linda Lilly Cosmas, UMS Forest Plantation and Agroforestry Programme head, Dr Affendy Hassan, and Agrobank Main Branch Tawau, Branch Manager, Roslan bin Awang. Participants also discussed various topics including potential crop species selection, sustainable market development in agroforestry and support systems.

Based on the three pillars of Protect, Produce, Restore, WWF-Malaysia’s Sabah Landscapes Programme combines both conservation and sustainable development by integrating the protection of forests, wildlife and rivers, with Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certified production of oil palm, and restoration of ecological corridors and riparian reserves.

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