Fruit Trees in India
In India, hunger and poverty remain persistent problems despite the growing economy. In 2021, estimates indicated that around 97.7 million people, or 6% of the population, lived in extreme poverty defined as less than $1.25 a day in income. This issue is significant in various regions, with Bihar experiencing a 52% poverty level followed by Jharkhand at 42% and Uttar Pradesh at 38%. In the regions of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, 45,000 children die each year of malnutrition. Deforestation and erosion that devastate farming land and natural resources have worsened this problem. However, the planting of fruit trees in India could help those in poverty.

Fruit Trees as a Solution to Poverty

Many organizations are combating these issues by planting fruit trees in India as a means of supporting sustainable livelihoods. The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation aims to plant community trees at clinics, schools and community centers to provide a steady “source of healthy food” and reforest the region of Uttar Pradesh. In addition, low-income families will also receive fruit-bearing trees to help them subsist. The foundation will provide horticultural training and workshops that will teach community members “the value of fruit trees” and how to take care of the trees and the environment to ensure sustainability.

Other Organizations Planting Trees

The One Tree Planted organization has supported the planting of 1.5 million fruit trees in India as of March 2022, including jackfruit, key lime, pomegranate, guava and custard apple, among others. The tree planting took place across the regions of Madya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Haryana — areas with high levels of extreme poverty.

These efforts helped restore 1,553 hectares of land that had succumbed to deforestation and positively impacted about 1,200 farming households throughout the process. Furthermore, 85% of the reforestation is a result of the work of more than 11,000 female farmers.

A grove of about 100 fruit trees can provide sustenance and an income to a family of four, helping lift communities out of poverty. As widowed and elderly women are particularly at risk of poverty, the organization focused on employing these marginalized groups. In addition, the trees will help increase biodiversity by providing sustenance and shelter to insects and small animals. This, in turn, will create thriving natural environments in the regions.

The Sustainable Greening Initiative (SGI) is a social enterprise based in India that focuses on combating severe weather, hunger and poverty in the nation. In two and a half years, SGI planted more than 25,000 fruit-bearing trees in 23 areas across India. By the third year, the trees could increase household income by INR 5,500 or $100 annually. SGI plants fruit trees at orphanages, old-age homes and homesteads of low-income farmers to help supplement the livelihoods of these communities. SGI also monitors the growth of the trees to ensure survival and sufficient fruit yields and assists in developing communal vegetable gardens to further combat hunger and poverty.

Looking Ahead

Fruit trees in India are a key aspect of the fight against hunger and poverty in the nation. Not only do the trees provide food for communities but they can reduce poverty through employment opportunities and their market value. Many organizations have devoted their resources to planting trees throughout many regions facing high levels of hunger and poverty. Because of these initiatives, millions of thriving trees are now visible, reforesting devastated lands and uplifting households living in poverty.

– Kimberly Calugaru
Photo: Flickr