Biotechnology and Agroforestry in Indian Arid Regions

  • Varsha Sharma
  • Shaily Goyal
  • K. G. RamawatEmail author
Part of the Sustainable Agriculture Reviews book series (SARV, volume 7)


Agroforestry evolved with agriculture to make the best use of the land and to maintain equilibrium between man, land, livestock and plants. In recent years, agroforestry has been developed as an autonomous science that can help farmers to increase profitability and land sustainability. Tree growing in combination with agriculture, including individual farms, watersheds and regional landscape can be integrated to take advantage of the benefits provided by adjacent natural, semi-natural or restored ecosystems. Trees in a variety of agroforestry systems enhance nutrient cycling, improve soil conservation and soil faunal activities and contribute to food security. Trees increase rural income through a diversity of products and services. Tree planting reduces salinity and prevents soil erosion, increases local biodiversity and reduces the greenhouse effect. Multiplication and establishment by conventional propagation of some of the arid and semi-arid zone trees are difficult. The plants showing high endemism need to be conserved and improved as they provide useful products to support the life system of arid and semi-arid zones of India. In arid and semi-arid environments, agroforestry systems support livelihood improvement through simultaneous production of food, fodder and firewood without much affecting climate change. The important trees of Indian arid region agroforestry are Acacia nilotica, Acacia senegal, Capparis deciduas, Phoenixdactylifera, Prosopis cineraria, Salvadora oleoides, Salvadora persica, Tecomella undulata, and Zizyphus mauritiana. There is also a potential to utilize agroforestry to solve global problems like desertification and to conserve biodiversity. Biotechnology has the potential to ameliorate agroforestry plants. Recently developed technology in molecular biology and tissue culture play an increasing role in the choice of genotype for successful establishment and improvement of agroforestry plants. Agroforestry tree improvement intends to identify and improve several important trees attributes like growth rates, disease and pest resistance and adaptability, tree form, e.g. straightness, branch number and size, and wood fiber quality. Biotechnological approaches to agroforestry plants of arid region have produced excellent results in micropropagation, e.g. for Prosopis species and Tecomella undulata, production of useful metabolites, e.g., by Commiphora wightii, genomics and genetic markers, e.g. for P. cineraria, T. undulata, C. wightii, gene mapping, e.g. in P. dactylifera, and transformed plants, e.g. Tecomella undulata. Some of the future directions for arid and semi-arid zone agroforestry need to focus on the evaluation and improvement of plants which will make a profound impact on the agroforestry.

Agroforestry Arid zone Germplasm Micropropagation Plant biotechnology Secondary metabolites 



This work was supported by financial assistance from UGC-DRS under special assistance program for medicinal plant research to KGR. VS and SG thanks UGC and CSIR, New Delhi for financial assistance in the form of JRF and RA, respectively.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Bio-Molecular Technology, Department of BotanyM.L. Sukhadia UniversityUdaipurIndia

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