Integrated Farming System – A Viable option for Smallholder to Double their Farm Productions & Income
Crop and livestock cannot be separated for smallholder agriculture in India as crop + livestock is the predominant farming system existing in the country and livelihood of 117 million marginal and small farm holdings revolves around this system. Small categories of farms are often subjected to weather vagaries like floods, drought and other natural calamities and farming remains risky. Vertical expansion in small farms is possible by integrating appropriate farming system components requiring less space and time and ensuring periodic income to the farmers
Mitthan Singh, a 52 years old smallholder farmer having 2 acres of land successfully diversified his farm by adding two (02) key components i.e. small ruminants and soil nutrients (e.g. vermi compost, Matka khad, Jeevamrut etc.) with the help of smallholder adaptive farming and biodiversity network (SAFBIN) form of smallholder led Integrated Farming System (IFS) focusing majorly towards production, income, nutrition, resilience and farmers control. Influenced by the low cost agro-ecological practices oriented in SAFBIN by recycling own farm waste and resources, he doubled his production (i.e. 200kgs from mere 20 decimal land) and income i.e. Rs. 15,000.00 from Rs. 7,000.00 in a monthly basis and Rs. 1,80,000.00 per year. He successfully reduced 20% of his input costs by preparing sufficient bio manure, botanicals and bio pest repellents from his livestock (i.e. 10 Goats, 2 Cows & 4 Bullocks) and managed to reduce external dependency considerably.
Mitthan Singh belongs to Kudela one of the remotest and geographically challenge villages of Mandla district in Madhya Pradesh. The community depends solely depends on pre-dominant paddy cultivation in rainfed conditions. Their livelihood means are very limited and confined to their locality. Considering this situation, Mitthan was often opted to migrate to nearby towns or cities for any labour works.
Integrated Farming System (IFS) is considered to be one of the powerful tools and holds the key for ensuring production, income, employment, livelihood along with nutritional security in a sustainable model for small and marginal farmers who constitute 84.97% of total operational holdings and operated 44.31% of the area. The integrated system meets the above goals through multiple uses of natural resources such as land, water, nutrients, and energy in a complimentary way thus giving scope for round the year sustainable income from various enterprises.
IFS approach can be described as “A judicious mix of two or more components using cardinal principles of minimum competition and maximum complementarity with advanced agronomic management tools aiming for the sustainable and environment-friendly improvement of farm income, family nutrition, and ecosystem services”. Preservation of biodiversity, diversification of cropping/farming system and maximum recycling is the base for the success of the farming systems approach. The farming system approach is based on the:
Sustainable improvement of farmhouse holds systems involving rural communities.
Farm production system improvement through enhanced input efficiency.
Satisfying the basic needs of farm families along with nutritional improvement.
Raising the family income through optimum use of resources and proper recycling within the system
“while doing the trial, it helped me to revive my knowledge and made me realise on my own farm resources which I recycled and gain such production. Thanks to SAFBIN, JDSSS and Caritas India for replicating such initiative in a very participatory way to take ownership of our own resources.” Mitthan further said.