Agriculture

Farmer’s Notebook: How Integrated Farming Can Help Ensure a Sustainable Income

Integrating crop production with livestock management helps to reduce operational input costs of farming and augments productivity, production and income per unit area.

Integrated fish farming in Bihar. Credit: Special arrangement

Integrated fish farming in Bihar. Credit: Special arrangement

Agriculture is not just about growing crops, nor is it about the physical drudgery involved or about the vagaries of monsoon playing with the lives of farmers. It is more about the scientific management of crop husbandry and its successful integration using the available technical guidelines.

For a farmer to earn a decent living, it is not enough to be content with growing some crops alone. Along with crops, he must rear some animals to ensure stability in income.

In order to reduce the load of food from fragile land, integrated natural resource management is a proven way to ensure a monthly income, reduce operational input cost of farming, augment productivity, production and income per unit area and ensure food and nutritional security to ever growing population of India.

Kavindra Kumar Maurya from Charuipar village in Nalanda district, Bihar, is a good example of displaying entrepreneurial spirit. His fish farm is located about 2 km east of Noorsarai and 50 km southeast of Patna, and is well-connected by road and rail.

“After the completion of my masters in botany, I started farming on my 6.10-acre land 20 years back but I could not get enough returns to sustain my family requirements. One of my friends inspired me to start fish rearing on my land. As per his suggestion, I first started fish farming in the year 2000. I started rearing fish in one pond of about 0.75 acres by purchasing fish seeds from the government fish seed farm. ”

Farmer's Notebook.

He invested about Rs 40,000 of his savings on fish seed, feed, fertiliser and labour, but lack of scientific know-how proved to be an obstacle in getting the desired production and income. He earned Rs 25,000 as net profit from the sale of fish. He realised that the profit margin through aquaculture is higher when compared to agriculture and started to gather technical information on the subject.

He approached the fisheries department for training, which then guided him towards the Central Institute of Fisheries Education regional centre at Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh in 2006. Upon the completion of his training programme, he expanded his pond area in 2006 and started fish farming in a scientific way.

“I was introduced to Tun Tun Singh in 2006, currently working as a lecturer at fisheries training and extension centre in Mithapur, Bihar. During my training programme, he advised me to integrate available resources such as horticulture, livestock, vermicompost and honey bee farming and helped me integrate my available resources. He also advised me to participate in a training programme on horticulture and honey bee farming. At present I have seven ponds (covering three acres), a one-acre bundh (dike) used for banana and vegetable farming, about 32 honeybee boxes for honey production, one cow and remaining 2.10 acre land for turmeric, potato, ginger, elephant foot etc production. I also installed a three HP solar water pump from the fisheries department of fisheries on 90% subsidy which helps in maintaining water level in the ponds and also for irrigating the crops,” Maurya said.

Honey bee farming in Bihar. Credit: Special arrangement

Honey bee farming in Bihar. Credit: Special arrangement

According to him, Singh regularly visited his farm and gave the scientific input to increase productivity per unit area. He produces all the above mentioned crops in his own land and as a result his dependence on local market for buying has come down.

“A perfect farmers is one who never depends on market for his daily food items,” Maurya added.

During the year 2014-15, he sold fish worth about Rs 7 lakh, banana worth Rs 25,000, vegetables worth Rs 15,000, honey worth Rs 25,000 and other crops amount to Rs 1.25 lakh. The total net profit of this integrated fish farm in 2014-15 was Rs 5.90 lakh. He never sold milk and vermicompost.

Maurya has developed and trained more than 100 farmers in integrated fish farming and acts as a master trainer in their area. Integrated fish farming is the best example of more crops per drop of water to ensure economic viability, income and environmental sustainability to the marginal and small farmers, and it can be effectively developed through participatory approach of extension workers, scientists and farmers families, says Singh.

For more details, contact Kavindra Kumar Maurya at 09939094713/09472806913 and Tun Tun Singh at 09473191559/09431086114 or ttsingh2002@gmail.com.