Integrated Farming means to integrate crop production with livestock management which in a way complement each other with a nice symbiotic relationship which at the time is economically viable and profitable, environmentally suitable, and benefit giver of diversification of production.
Why it is in news?
Integrated farming is an another approach or farming practice which originally devised in China and now being supported world wide as a all round development of agriculture along with animal husbandry and other such occupation which is related to core agricultural practices. Integrated farming has the capability to make the agriculture sector profitable which otherwise has been proved largely as a subsistence sector and a major reason behind leaving this age old occupation and migration to cities.
An example of integrated farming could be fish and livestock cultivation along with general farming practices which support each other. The fishes can be fed with the residuary materials of farms such as leaves, stalks or other waste products. Additionally, the plankton which are major fish feed can grown using the manures provided by the livestock which are getting raised at the side of fish farms. Near the fish farms, silk warms can also be raised (i.e. sericulture). The silkworm pupae and other wastes can then be used to feed the fish. In return the fish pond silt provides an excellent manure and fertilizer for land crops and highly solicited by farmers. This way integrated farming has multicultural approach which is environment friendly and sustainably provide the economic means to prosper.
An Indian example of Integrated farming can best be understood by the fact that once a degraded land in Jodhpur, Rajasthan having very less crop production (and income) with the use of integrated farming practices such as plantation of improved qualities of Ber along with intercropping, honey been keeping and a goat unit turned into a major revenue generator along with improving the quality of soil and decreased expenditure on fertilizer and pesticides, produced good quality fruits using organic farming which has high demand overseas.
Integrated farming can have many variants which can be used according to the environmental conditions of the place. It can include combinations such as Fish-Duck Integrated farming, Livestock-Fish Integrated farming (explained above), Cattle-Fish Integrated farming, Polutry-Fish Integrated farming, livestock-honeybee integrated farming etc.
However, despite having many advantages of integrated farming, it is so far not yet popular as expected and hence the farmers are not able to reap its benefits. There may be many reasons attributed to this failure such as –
- The unawareness of farmers about the benefits of this farming practice – It keep the farmers away implementing best practices of integrated farming.
- The lesser resources – Around 80 percent of the farmers do not have lands more than 5 acres. Hence, they can’t be used mechanised farming with sophisticated tools. Also, the lack of capital acts as an impediment in buying the expensive livestock and its maintenance.
- Government policies – Though government has many schemes to provide on low rates loan for cattle rearing, agriculture and purchasing mechanical equipments. However, the procedure along with inherent corruption in government departments further discourages the farmers to approach them.
India with this majority of the population depending upon agriculture (around 58 percent) for its sustenance surely needs to look into all such practices which make agriculture economically viable and environmentally suitable to fulfil its goal of ‘Inclusive and Sustainable development’. The integrated farming is one such approach which has the potential to turn the contribution of agriculture and allied activities in the country’s GDP which as of now is only 18 percent (feeding the total population of 58 percent). The development of agriculture is our utmost priority which found its true value in the year 2002 when the agriculture (and not industry) was declared as the engine of growth of the country. The National Agricultural Policy, 2000 also suitable emphasizes the need to improve integrated farming along with other agricultural practices to make the country food sufficient and tame the increasing food inflation.