How far is Integrated Farming System (IFS) helpful in sustaining agricultural production?
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.
Indian farm sector needs to address the twin challenges of productivity and sustainability along with augmentation of farmer’s income. For this, IFS emerges as one of the most viable options, as it ensures:
▪️Productivity: 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.
▪️Profitability: It has the capability to make the sector profitable by reducing the use of chemical fertilizer and recycling nutrients.
▪️Sustainability: 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 minimize the use of weed killers as well as pesticides and thereby protect the environment.
▪️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.
▪️Income round the year: Due to interaction of enterprises with crops, eggs, meat and milk, IFS provides flow of money round the year amongst the farming community.
▪️Best utilization of small landholdings: 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 utilized under IFS.
▪️Meeting fodder crisis: Byproduct and waste material of crop are effectively utilized as fodder for livestock (Ruminants) and products like grain, maize are used as feed for monogastric animals (pigs and poultry).
▪️Employment generation: 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.
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 .