Kabirdham District - India


Empowering smallholder farmers

2019 Els Remijn Women harvesting Chattisgarh India

Agroforestry empowers smallholder farmers and indigenous communities in Kabirdham district, Central India, spanning over 200,000 hectares. Despite challenges like overgrazing, forest degradation, and water scarcity, farmers strive for ecological resilience and community prosperity. In 2019, Commonland, local government, communities, and organizations collaborated using the 4 Returns framework for sustainable development, nature conservation, and community well-being. The vision is to create empowered communities capable of sustainable land, water, and forest resource management.

Empowering smallholder farmers and indigenous communities in Central India


The Kabirdham landscape programme envisions more empowered local communities, who use their voice, skills and knowledge to improve their livelihoods and manage land, water and forest resources sustainably.


  • Climate change and related extreme weather events
  • Decline in soil health and biodiversity due to unsustainable farming practices and forest resource extraction
  • Increasing land use pressure for agriculture and urban expansion, because of a fast-growing population
“Today, we are taking this seed of knowledge, and we have to plant it in our village and wake up others. So that everyone comes together for the protection of nature.” Village leader of Mehlighat


  • Localise forest resource management plans and promote community action
  • Scale community engagement in (agro)forestry and regenerative agriculture
  • Increase the reach and impact of agroforestry by using success stories and lessons from civil society organisations working actively in the region
  • Expand agribusiness opportunities for agroforestry and non-timber forest products, such as Mahua tree flowers
  • Explore setting up a Carbon project that benefits local communities


Pioneers in transformative restoration through the 4 Returns approach.

Commonland India