Ph.D. Scholar, IARI, New Delhi
Integrated Farming Systems (IFS) represent a comprehensive approach to agriculture designed to address various demands, including bolstering farm resilience, improving farmer livelihoods, enhancing food security, providing ecosystem services, and fostering adaptability and resilience in farming practices. IFS is characterized by the deliberate mixing of crops, livestock, fisheries, and related activities within a single farm, both temporally and spatially. It is postulated that these intricate farming systems exhibit greater overall productivity, reduced vulnerability to market volatility, and fewer negative externalities compared to simplified farming approaches. A thorough review of the existing literature reveals that IFS has the potential to significantly enhance farm profitability by up to 265% and generate a substantial increase in employment opportunities, amounting to a 143% rise when compared to single-enterprise farms. Furthermore, IFS contributes significantly to biodiversity conservation through diversified cropping systems and the integration of indigenous livestock breeds. These systems also play a crucial role in boosting soil organic carbon content, with observed increases from 0.75% to 0.82%. Notably, IFS contributes to greenhouse gas reduction through mechanisms like enhanced carbon sequestration, and reduced fertilizer and pesticide usage, thereby fostering a connected and sustainable farming ecosystem with improved climate resilience. However, the adoption of IFS presents challenges, primarily due to the requirement for skills, knowledge, resources, labour, and capital that may not always be readily available to small and marginal farmers. Therefore, there is a pressing need for the development of an integrated evaluation framework that combines productivity, profitability, and environmental sustainability variables. Such a framework would facilitate the generation of information aimed at enhancing the adaptability and widespread adoption of IFS in agriculture.