Integrated farming can double NE farmers’ income: Experts

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IMPHAL, APRIL 12: Integrated farming system (IFS) with scientific inputs can play a vital role to meet food security and bring about livelihood improvement besides realising Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision to double farmers’ income by 2022 in the Northeast, agricultural experts have observed.”IFS can be the only option to increase farmers’ income in the region if our farmers have the quality cultivation materials and other scientific methods,” said Prof Ratan Kumar Saha, Director of Extension Education, Central Agricultural University (CAU), in Manipur.
“It can help a farmer in the Northeast double his income. We’ve seen it in Tripura where fish production increased 108-686% and rice production to the tune of 27%.”
IFS is a farming practice meant for all-round development of agriculture with animal husbandry and other occupations related to core agricultural practices. It has the capability to make the sector profitable since farmers in the Northeast have small and marginal holdings, Prof Saha said.
Besides, integration of crops in the field with bee keeping activities will again help in increasing crop production from 20 to 50%, added the former dean of College of Fisheries under CAU in Agartala.
Various kinds of skill development programmes and other farmer oriented activities were also underway on different agricultural, animal husbandry and fishery sectors across 7 colleges out of 13 colleges under CAU which is the largest agricultural university of the country. The farmers’ activities followed after an understanding has been reached between CAU and Power Finance Corporation Ltd under Corporate Social Responsibility.
On the issues of using fertiliser and organic farming, the fishery expert Prof Saha opined, “We should use chemical fertilisers judiciously.”
However, the unique feature is that agricultural system in the region is organic by default as the people of Northeast hardly use pesticides and other chemical fertilisers. IFS will not have much issue as the farmers have to integrate their farming systems with animals.
“If they integrate (with animals), it will automatically become organic. “IFS is also found to be a vital step for improvement of jhum cultivation in the region.”
About 4 lakh families practice jhum cultivation covering land area approximately 3,86,300 ha annually in Northeast. Manipur’s total Jhum area is said to be around 1,22,147 ha in 2017, according to Manipur Remote Sensing Application Centre.
In the recently concluded Indian Science Congress at Manipur University, UK Behera, Dean, College of Agriculture, CAU, Meghalaya, said IFS can be a powerful tool to double farmers’ income and improve their lives. “Once implemented in a systematic way, it (IFS) will achieve the target (of doubling the farmers’ income),” said Behera, who was also the Principal Scientist of ICAR, New Delhi. “It will also increase productivity by 2-3 times, create additional employment, save 40-60% resources and will ensure 100% household nutritional security,” added Behera.
It is learnt that CAU had already prepared a document to adopt IFS in the Northeastern States and they have even submitted a report to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research for necessary steps.
The Modi Government has set a target of doubling the farmers’ income by 2022, the 75th year of India’s Independence. For this, in the next 5 years, the Government wants to use a 7-point strategy, including increasing production, making effective use of input cost, reducing post-harvest losses, making value addition and reforms in agriculture marketing. (Courtesy: AT)