[Answered]What do you understand about the Integrated Farming System? How far is the Integrated Farming System helpful in sustaining agricultural production?

Demand of the question

Introduction. What is Integrated Farming System?

Body. Role of Integrated Farming System helpful in sustaining agricultural production. Various challenges.

Conclusion. Way forward.

The Integrated Farming System (IFS) is a combined approach aimed at efficient sustainable resource management for increased productivity in the cropping system. The IFS approach has multiple objectives of sustainability, food security, farmer’s security and poverty reduction by involving livestock, vermicomposting, organic farming etc.

Integrated Farming System ensures sustainable agricultural production through:

  1. Economic activity: IFS provides an opportunity to increase economic yield per unit area by virtue of intensification of crop and allied enterprises especially for small and marginal farmers. Due to interaction of enterprises, IFS provides flow of money round the year amongst the farming community.
  2. Reduced use of fertilisers: It has the capability to make the sector profitable by reducing the use of chemical fertilisers and recycling nutrients.
  3. Environmentally sustainable: In IFS, subsystem of one byproduct works as an input for the other subsystem, making it environmentally sustainable. Moreover, IFS components are known to control the weed and regarded as an important element of integrated pest management and thus minimise the use of weed killers as well as pesticides and thereby protect the environment.
  4. Recycling: Effective recycling of products, by-products and waste material in IFS is the cornerstone behind the sustainability of farming system under resource poor condition in rural areas.
  5. Resource management: IFS promote the efficient management of resources. This enhances the productivity of the farming. The IFS promotes for rejuvenation of systems productivity and to achieve agroecological equilibrium.

Challenges: While integrated farming system can help improve the income and nutritional security of farmers, however it is not free of challenges such as:

  1. Affordability: For financial reasons small and marginal farmers cannot afford large cattle so we have to encourage small ruminants such as goats and sheep.
  2. Acceptance: There is hesitation among the farmers in non coastal areas to adopt fisheries, poultry, duck rearing because of lack of role models and religious perceptions.
  3. Not under MSP: Mushroom farming and beekeeping are not covered under the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system. Better integration with the food processing industries and hotel Industries is therefore necessary.

Way forward:

  1. Integrating subsistence agriculture: Indian farmers in many regions such as in north-eastern part, practice subsistence agriculture. They also have a rich traditional base in water harvesting, soil management etc. which could be efficiently utilised under IFS.
  2. Encouraging livestock enterprises: Combining crop with livestock enterprises would increase the labour requirement significantly and would help in reducing the problems of underemployment and unemployment to a great extent. IFS provides enough scope to employ family labour round the year.
  3. Building farmer capacities: All stakeholders should make continuous efforts to build farmer capacities for adoption of productive, remunerative, eco-friendly and self-sustaining integrated farming systems.

IFS provides multiple benefits that are sustainable and can pave the way for climate-smart agriculture. India needs to adopt a “well designed” Integrated Farming System (IFS) to realise the vision of doubling farmers’ income by 2022 and having sustainable agricultural practices.

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