Integrated agriculture key to farmers’ uplift
Date: Apr 13, 2022 & Source: https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/comment/integrated-agriculture-key-to-farmers-uplift-385802
Parveen is an example of a small farmer from Vagarahalli village of Hassan district in Karnataka whose enterprise has made sustainable agriculture a reality on his 1.69-hectare farm. Traditionally, he grew crops such as ragi (finger millet), maize, potato and coconut with a small dairy and poultry unit. The use of improved varieties and hybrids has been supplemented on the farm with introduction of high-value crops such as ginger and sericulture. Drumstick and papaya have been intercropped with coconut. Silver oak has been planted all along the farm borders. Farm waste is being recycled into healthy manure. He has installed a micro-sprinkler irrigation system in the coconut garden in addition to using appropriate farm machineries such as coconut climbers and de-huskers. Despite the challenges of climate change, soil fatigue and reduction of water availability, with the above measures, Parveen has increased his net annual income from Rs 47,740 to Rs 7.28 lakh! Without doubt, technical and capacity-building support from the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), Hassan, has been a critical resource.
The Doubling Farmers Income (DFI) Report, 2017, observes that the integration of farm activities, in both rainfed and dryland areas, when carefully chosen, planned and executed can yield greater dividends for sustainable livelihoods, especially in the case of small and marginal farmers. The Union Government is implementing the National Mission of Sustainable Agriculture. The objective of this mission is to extensively leverage the adaptation of integrated farming practices and appropriate technologies in conjunction with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), and more importantly, the state government.
Our KVKs under the aegis of the ICAR have created and nurtured several successful integrated farming system models with crop combinations. The time is ripe for them to learn and dovetail from the good practices of the myriad private sector agritech initiatives, especially agri-startups, in the rural landscape. To name a few, Dehaat, Ninjacart, Sammunati, Waycool, Agrostar and Jumbotail have attracted huge venture capital funding in precision agriculture, on-farm management, supply chain and output market initiatives, according to a 2021 Ernst & Young study. There is a tremendous penetration of broadband connectivity and mobile usage in villages. Hence, virtual interaction with farmers on integrated farming ‘package of practices’ has to be supplemented with the physical reach of sufficient numbers of extension officers of agriculture, horticulture and allied departments. The use of Common Service Centres (CSCs), in this context, has to be intensified too. These are last-mile public delivery access points in districts that provide high-quality and cost-effective video, voice, data content and public utility services. It is in the above robust ecosystem that small farmers, such as Parveen from Karnataka, will be doubly empowered through a public-private partnership approach to imbibe the economic, ecological and sustainable dimensions of integrated farming.
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