Integrated farming system-A holistic approach to doubling farmers’ income by 2022

RC Shakywar, Dinesh Sah, M Pathak, BM Singh and AK Pandey
Contd from previous issue
The farming systems is governed by various forces viz., physical environment, socio economic conditions and political forces under various institutional and operational constraints and above all government favourable policies, which may keep the food security intact and livelihood fully protected.
For poor people, it starts small with ducks and chickens; then a few goats are kept for milk or fattening and to slaughter for a day of sacrifice; next a milch cow; then a bullock for ploughing in cooperation with another one buffalo family; then two bullocks. These can be used to plough the fields of others a very lucrative business in the planting season. In India, one would add a mulch buffalo at the apex of desirable animals on the farm. In the Vietnamese concept, the pigs will be the second step in the ladder. The concept means to start with small livestock and women and then the household will step by step get out of poverty. The poorest households kept only poultry and these households were those most dependent on common property resources for their living (e.g. use and sale of firewood from the forest). A similar stratification has been reported in several studies from Asia. Survey on farming systems in the country as a whole revealed that milch animals; cows and buffaloes irrespective of breed and productivity is the first choice of the farmers as an integral part of their farming system. However, from economic point of view, vegetables and fruits (mango and banana in many parts of the country) followed by bee keeping, sericulture, mushroom and fish cultivation was the most enterprising components of any of the farming systems prevalent in the country. The average yield gaps between 27 predominant and 37 diversified farming systems were examined across the agro-climatic zones through detailed survey on characterization of on farm farming systems.
Productivity enhancement by Integrated Farming Systems
In view of serious limitations of horizontal expansion of land for agriculture, only alternative left is vertical expansion through various farm enterprises requiring less space and time but give high productivity and ensuring periodic income especially for the small and marginal farmers. The highlights about the research investigations carried out in India towards farming system outcome are discussed to conceptualize its significance towards farming community livelihood.
Why Double Farmers’ Income ?
Ancient times approach for development of the agriculture sector in India has focused primarily on raising agricultural output and improving food security. The net result has been a 45 per cent increase in per person food production, which has made India not only food self sufficient at aggregate level, but also a net food exporting country.
The strategy did not clearly identify the need to raise farmers income and did not mention any direct measure to promote famers welfare. The net result has been that farmers income remained low, which is evident from the incidence of poverty among farm households.
Low level of absolute income as well as large and deteriorating disparity between income of a farmer and non-agricultural worker constitute an important reason for the emergence of agrarian distress in the country during 1990s, which turned quite serious in some years. The country also witnessed a sharp increase in the number of famers suicides during 1995 to 2004 losses from farming, shocks in farm income and low farm income are identified as the important factors for this. The low and highly fluctuating farm income is causing detrimental effect on the interest in farming and farm investments is also forcing more and more cultivators, particularly younger age group to leave farming. This can cause serious adverse effect on the future of agriculture in the country.
The concept and time frame
Precision on the following points is important to assess the possibility of doubling the income of the farmers. The substantive points are:
1) What is the period and targeted year for doubling the farm income;
2) What is to be doubled, is it output, value added or income earned by famers from agricultural activities;
3) Whether nominal income is to be doubled or real income is to be doubled;
4) Whether the targeted income includes only income derived from agricultural activities or would it also include income of farmers from other sources.
It is obvious that the targeted year to double the current income of the farmers or income for the agricultural year 2015-16 is by agricultural year 2022-23, which is seven years away from the base year 2015-16. Furthermore, if anything is to be doubled by the year 2022-23, it will require an annual growth rate of 10.4 per cent.
Another time, it is important to clarify what is sought to be doubled. It is the income of famers or the output or the income of the sector or the value added or GDP of agriculture sector. If technology, input prices, wages and labour use could result in per unit cost savings then farmer’s income tripled in the seven years period. Therefore, doubling of farmer’s income should not be viewed as same as doubling of farm output.
It is obvious that if inflation in agricultural prices is high, famer’s income in nominal terms will double in a much shorter period. In a situation where non agricultural prices do not rise or rise at a very small rate, the growth in farmer’s income at real prices tends to be almost the same as in nominal prices. The government’s target seems to be to double the income of farmers from farming in real terms.
Sources of Growth in Farmer’s Income
Doubling real income of farmers till 2022-23 over the base year of 2015-16, requires annual growth of 10.41 per cent in farmer’s income. This implies that the ongoing and previously achieved rate of growth in farm income has to be sharply accelerated. Therefore, strong measures will be needed to harness all possible sources of growth in farmer’s income within as well as outside agriculture sector.
The major sources of growth operating within agriculture sector are:
1) Improvement in productivity;
2) Resource use efficiency or saving in cost of production;
3) Increase in cropping intensity;
4) Diversification towards high value crops.
The sources outside agriculture include
1) Shifting cultivators from farm to nonfarm occupations and
2) Improvement in terms of trade for farmers or real prices received by farmers.
Strategy for Improving Farmer’s Income
The sources of growth in output and income can be put in four categories.
1) Development initiatives including infrastructure
2) Technology
3) Policies and
4) Institutional mechanisms.

( To be contd)