[Solved] How far is Integrated Farming System (IFS) helpful in sustaining agricultural production? (UPSC GS-3 Mains 2019)

IFS is a farming practice meant for all-round development of agriculture with animal husbandry and other occupations related to core agricultural practices. Integrated Farming System (IFS) is an interdependent, interrelated often interlocking production systems based on few crops, animals and related subsidiary enterprises in such a way that maximize the utilization of nutrients of each system.

  • The IFS approach has multiple objectives of sustainability, food security, farmer security and poverty reduction.
  • It involves use of outputs of one enterprise component as inputs for other related enterprises wherever feasible, for example, cattle dung mixed with crop residues and farm waste can be converted in to nutrient-rich vermi-compost.

 The salient features of IFS include – innovation in farming for maximising production through optimal use of local resources, effective recycling of farm waste for productive purposes, community-led local systems for water conservation, organic farming, and developing a judicious mix of income-generating activities such as dairy, poultry, fishery, goat-rearing, vermicomposting and others.

 Major environmental benefits include:

 • Recycling and utilization of other available resources in the farm: There is effective recycling of waste material in farming system. It specifically refers to crop-combination or enterprise -mix in which the products and/or the by-products of one enterprise serve as the input for the production of other enterprise. Farming system includes agricultural crops, fruit trees, forest trees, forages, grasses and animals, which have potential to contribute to improve resource use and management.

 • Potentiality or Sustainability: Organic supplementation through effective utilization of byproducts of linked component provides an opportunity to sustain the potentiality of production base for much longer periods.

 • Balanced Food: The linked components of varied nature enable to produce different sources of nutrition.

 • Environmental Safety: In IFS waste materials are effectively recycled by linking appropriate components, thus minimize environment pollution.

 • Saving Energy: Organic wastes available in the system can be utilized to generate biogas. This alternative source thus reduces our dependence on fossil energy sources within short time.

 Meeting Fodder crisis: Every piece of farm area is effectively utilized. Plantation of perennial legume fodder trees on field borders fixes the atmospheric nitrogen. These practices will greatly relieve the problem of non – availability of quality fodder to the animal component linked.

 • Solving Fuel and Timber Crisis: By linking agro- forestry appropriately, the production level of fuel and industrial wood can be enhanced without any effect on crop. This will also greatly reduce deforestation, thus preserving our natural ecosystem.

 • Increasing Input Efficiency: Farming system provides good scope to use inputs in different component with greater efficiency and benefit cost ratio.

 How can the Integrated Farming System help in sustainable agriculture production:

  • Sustainable agriculture production means an integrated approach to increasing farm yield and managing resources in order to address all three critical aspects of sustainability: economic, environmental and social.
  • Recycling of wastes being inbuilt in the system, this helps to reduce dependence on external high-energy inputs thus conserving natural and scarce resources.
  • Multiple uses of resources– multiple uses of water for the household, irrigation, dairy, poultry etc reduces cost, making farming sustainable.
  • Soil health improvement through recycling- residue recycling is an integral part of IFS. Thus Raising productivity and yields.
  • IFS helps to reduce the risk involved in farming especially due to market price crash as well as natural calamities.
  • For example, during Phalin cyclone which affected Odisha, paddy crop at the flowering stage was affected but a household with advanced agronomic management tools coupled with livestock, jute, fishery suffered loss between 8 – 28% but households with only farming component had 100 % loss of crop.

 Steps for upscaling science-based integrated farming systems:

  • Focus on market-oriented diversification and livelihood improvement
  • Initiation of National Mission on Integrated Systems by converging schemes of crops, horticulture, livestock, fisheries etc Large scale spread of IFS concept
  • Move from Soil Health card to Farm or Farming system cards

 Capacity building of stakeholders including skill development

 Crop and forage rotation

 Introduce farm perception-based location-specific livestock components especially small ruminants like goats, sheep, poultry Improve monthly income inflows Integrate less land requiring activities.

 Hence IFS system can certainly maintain sustainability in farming system and Govt of India must recognize its importance and urge states to promote these location-specific IFS models to initiate the National Mission on Integrated Farming Systems by converging the schemes of crops, horticulture, livestock and fisheries in order to give impetus to integrated farming systems among farmers for fast-tracking the goal of doubling farmer’s income by 2022.

 The Integrated Farming System (IFS) is a combined approach aimed at efficient sustainable resource management for increased productivity in the cropping system. The IFS approach has multiple objectives of sustainability, food security, farmer’s security and poverty reduction by involving livestock, vermicomposting, organic farming etc.

Integrated Farming System ensures sustainable agricultural production through:

  • Economic activity: IFS provides an opportunity to increase economic yield per unit area by virtue of intensification of crop and allied enterprises especially for small and marginal farmers. Due to interaction of enterprises, IFS provides flow of money round the year amongst the farming community.
  • Reduced use of fertilisers: It has the capability to make the sector profitable by reducing the use of chemical fertilisers and recycling nutrients.
  • Environmentally sustainable: In IFS, subsystem of one byproduct works as an input for the other subsystem, making it environmentally sustainable. Moreover, IFS components are known to control the weed and regarded as an important element of integrated pest management and thus minimise the use of weed killers as well as pesticides and thereby protect the environment.
  • Recycling: Effective recycling of products, by-products and waste material in IFS is the cornerstone behind the sustainability of farming system under resource poor condition in rural areas.
  • Resource management: IFS promote the efficient management of resources. This enhances the productivity of the farming. The IFS promotes for rejuvenation of systems productivity and to achieve agroecological equilibrium.

 Challenges: While integrated farming system can help improve the income and nutritional security of farmers, however it is not free of challenges such as: Affordability: For financial reasons small and marginal farmers cannot afford large cattle so we have to encourage small ruminants such as goats and sheep.

  • Acceptance: There is hesitation among the farmers in non coastal areas to adopt fisheries, poultry, duck rearing because of lack of role models and religious perceptions.
  • Not under MSP: Mushroom farming and beekeeping are not covered under the Minimum Support Price (MSP) system. Better integration with the food processing industries and hotel Industries is therefore necessary.

 Way forward:

  • Integrating subsistence agriculture: Indian farmers in many regions such as in north-eastern part, practice subsistence agriculture. They also have a rich traditional base in water harvesting, soil management etc. which could be efficiently utilised under IFS.
  • Encouraging livestock enterprises: Combining crop with livestock enterprises would increase the labour requirement significantly and would help in reducing the problems of underemployment and unemployment to a great extent. IFS provides enough scope to employ family labour round the year.
  • Building farmer capacities: All stakeholders should make continuous efforts to build farmer capacities for adoption of productive, remunerative, eco-friendly and self-sustaining integrated farming systems.
  • IFS provides multiple benefits that are sustainable and can pave the way for climate-smart agriculture. India needs to adopt a “well designed” Integrated Farming System (IFS) to realise the vision of doubling farmers’ income by 2022 and having sustainable agricultural practices.


 The emergence of Integrated Farming Systems (IFS) has enabled us to develop a framework for an alternative development model to improve the feasibility of small sized farming operations in relation to larger ones.

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