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Supporting policy with scientific evidence

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Publication | 2022

Integrated farming system approaches to achieve food and nutritional security for enhancing profitability, employment, and climate resilience in India

Integrated farming systems (IFS) entail a holistic approach to farming aimed at meeting the multiple demands (impart farm resilience, farmer livelihoods, food security, ecosystem services, and making farms adaptive and resilient, etc.). IFS are characterized by temporal and spatial mixing of crops, livestock, fishery, and allied activities in a single farm. It is hypothesized that these complex farms are more productive at a system level, are less vulnerable to volatility, and produce less negative externalities than simplified farms. Thereby, they cater the needs of small and marginal farmers, who are the backbone of agriculture in India. Our review of literature shows that IFS have the potential to improve farm profitability (265%) and employment (143%) compared to single enterprise farms. The literature showed that IFS enhance nutrient recycling through composting, mulching, and residue incorporation and, as a consequence, have the capacity to reduce the external purchase of inputs. The nutrient recycling in turn helps to increase the soil quality indicators such as soil nutrient availability and also improves soil microbial activity. The IFS play a major role in biodiversity conservation through adoption of diversified cropping system and through integration of indigenous livestock breeds. IFS also played important role in improving soil organic carbon from 0.75 to 0.82%. Due to increased carbon sequestration, biomass production by trees, reduced consumption of fertilizers, and pesticides the greenhouse gas emission could be reduced significantly. This results in a linked system making it sustainable and climate-resilient. The main challenge associated with adoption of IFS is it requires skill, knowledge, resources, labor, and capital which are not always available with small and marginal farmers. There is a need for integrating productivity, profitability, and environmental sustainability variables in a single evaluation framework to effectively generate information toward enhancing adaptability of IFS.