A Reasonable Antidote to Risk(s) and Uncertainty in Agriculture Lies in Integrated Farming

Dr. Tasneem Mubarak

Erratic behavior of the weather and natural calamities are no more an exception but a routine now. Droughts, floods, hail storms, untimely snow, typhoons and so on cause immense loss to crops and create a worrying situation for all those who are directly or indirectly associated with agriculture. The recent hailstorm in some parts of the valley especially in district Kulgam on the 1st day of May resulted in enormous loss of crops. Fruit growers in some villages of district have suffered great loss of fruit due to heavy hailstorm and are in distress at present. It did not happen this year only but in the past years in one or the other part of valley.
I don’t have any idea about how much compensation the calamity hit farmers will receive but one thing is certain that there is an urgent need to develop and popularize location and socio-economic situation specific integrated farming system models. As demonstrated by empirical studies, integration of crop components minimizes the risk of crop failures and uncertainty in farm income under almost all situations. Over the past few decades in the background of changing climate and market scenario, sustaining farm income and better livelihood opportunities of small and marginal farmers is an issue of great relevance. In conventional agriculture, farmers concentrate mainly on one crop which owing to many risks associated with biotic and abiotic stress and marketing is subjected to a high degree of uncertainty in income and employment. A judicious integration of agricultural enterprises suited to the specific agro-climatic and socioeconomic situation of the farmer is therefore essential for augmenting the income of a farm and increasing the family labour employment.
Integrated Farming conceptually is a set of elements or components, which are integrated and interactive among themselves. It takes into account the components of soil, water, crop, livestock and other sources with the farm family at the center, managing agricultural and related activities. The integrated farming system approach introduces a change in the farming techniques for maximum production in the cropping pattern and takes care of optimal utilization of resources. The farm wastes are better recycled for productive purposes. Sustainable soil health, fertility and productivity through on-farm recycling of organic wastes, year round availability of nutritious food enriched with protein, carbohydrate, fat, minerals and vitamins, clean environment as a result of effective recycling of waste from animal activities, reduced production cost of components and increased farm income through input recycling from the byproducts of allied enterprises, regular income through the diverse agri- products and generation of regular employment for the farm families are other benefits associated with integrated farming.
In addition to these aspects, there are many other advantages but what I feel is that the most important is the developing Integrated Farming System Models in farmers’ participatory mode, which is lucrative and better suited to a given agro-climatic and socioeconomic environment. This is essential to motivate and educate the farmers of the area for adopting such models and thus contributing to their families and to the region. In this background KrishiVigyan Kendra Kulgam has established a demonstration on Integrated Farming system on agriculture, horticulture, vermicomposting and livestock as components over an area of one hectare. Since its establishment in year 2017 more than 7 thousand farmers from every nook and corner of the district visited the model and interacted with the scientists of the Kendra. Demand for varieties, breeds and related technologies being demonstrated has thus increased many fold and Kendra is now concentrating on multiplication at KVK instructional farm to facilitate the interested farmers.

—The author is a Senior Scientist & Head KVK,Kulgam, SKUAST, Kashmir. He can be reached at: drtasneem.mubarak@gmail.com