The Perennial Agriculture Institute (PAI) is a new organization that uses strategic research-based advocacy to increase global recognition and adoption of perennial farming systems. Currently agroforestry and perennial cropping systems are paid insufficient attention in the world of agricultural mitigation, which focuses overwhelmingly on annual cropping and grazing systems. While important, the latter systems are limited by low per-hectare sequestration rates. The expansion of perennial cropping systems, and the thoughtful integration of trees into agricultural and grazing land, serves as a game changer by greatly increasing sequestration rates and long-term carbon stocks. The IPCC states that limiting warming to 1.5˚ or 2˚C requires “transformative” approaches to all sectors of society–including agriculture. Climate change mitigation demands the full set of tools in the climate-smart agriculture toolkit, including widespread but severely undervalued perennial agriculture. Multisectoral strategy and action are needed to support farmers in the implementation of high impact carbon sequestering agriculture.
The PAI gathers together a suite of such practices under the rubric of perennial agriculture–including perennial staple crop production, tree intercropping (integrating woody plants with annual crops), silvopasture (integrating trees on pasture), and multistrata systems (multiple layers of woody crops, e.g. shade coffee production). PAI will strengthen the existing knowledge base by synthesizing scientific research, modeling impacts, and developing roadmaps for accelerating adoption. PAI will develop materials and convene gatherings for education and advocacy, targeting decision makers at key leverage points in policy, finance, and research sectors, to mobilize institutional support for expansion of perennial agriculture.