By Dr BK Mukhopadhyay
Time has been changing and this is the age of innovention [innovation + invention] where static approach is being replaced fast by the dymic [fast and consistent] one. In today’s business environment the target is to reap optimal benefits from land use altertives – land being the scarce resource where competing crops/ allied activities are there all targeting to have a greater share.
It has been a fact that for years together a majority of the world’s farmers, particularly those located in tropical regions, depend for their food and income on multispecies agricultural systems [the cultivation of a variety of crops on a single piece of land]. Those systems, which are often without synthetic inputs and based on integrated magement of local tural resources and, in many cases, on ratiol magement of biodiversity, though theoretically offer numerous ecological advantages, yet calls for renewed thinking in as much as the days now are for simultaneous bunching and multi-tasking so that risk element is reduced to a considerable extent via bifurcating into various components leading to professiol practises.
Heat Is On?
For optimally using the land, productivity factor coupled with nutrient-rich environmentally allowable productions has emerged to be the leading factor. In fact, the Integrated Rural Development System (IRDS) has revolutionized Conventiol Farming of Livestock, Aquaculture, Horticulture, Agro-Industry and Allied activities in some countries, especially in tropical and subtropical regions that are not arid. The IRDS possesses the inherent strength to remove constraints to a significant extent by not only solving most of the existing economic and even ecological problems, but also provide the needed means of production such as fuel, fertilizer and feed, besides increasing productivity manifold. Inter-sectoral-resource-flow is thus bolstered.
As a matter of fact, globally speaking, farming is not very performing unless relatively big inputs are added to sustain yields and very often compromise the economic viability as well as the ecological sustaibility. It can turn all those existing age-old farming systems, especially in the poorest countries, into economically viable and ecologically balanced one that will not only alleviate poverty, but can even eradicate this source completely, resulting in the much-needed real rural development. In the NER the change has been there but relatively at a slower pace. Investment flows are jacking up mainly due to larger involvement of the banks [public sector, inclusive of the Regiol Rural Banks and Cooperatives particularly]. Government schemes are gaining ground and subsidy-centric approach is being slowly replaced by market-oriented activity-diversification-based approach. The RBI and BARD efforts as well as the activities of other development agencies [government and nongovernment] are accentuating the changing process to a satisfactory extent.
Various activities, hitherto least known or practised, are making foray into the farming community. Those who added fish to the livestock-crop system are in the process of making a very big step forward, not only by increasing the fertilizer from the fish wastes, but also enhanced their income from the bigger and quicker yield of fish and their relatively high market prices. Cost effective quality conscious planning is also on though to a lesser extent. Horticulture, apiculture, viticulture, pisciculture, duckery, piggery, poultry, agricultural machineries’ uses are steadily jacking up the drive for modernized farming practices.
Processing the produce for preservation with value addition and spoilage minimization are contributing to overall benefits. Food processing sector is getting encouraged by the resource flow. Micro and small entrepreneurship is steadily gaining ground. Injecting latest research findings [both in farm and non-farm sector] could alter the situation to a large extent and labour-absorbing capability could in that situation would surpass the labour-displacing factors.
In the overall sense, techno-economically and environmentally sound farm and non-farm activities, jointly, have the latent strength to turn the backward ‘depressed corridor’ into a developed region — ultimately helping to attain sustaible development. This has assumed to be of utmost importance in this part of the country since the scope for big industry remains a far cry. Income and employment generation via this process of integration, in turn, could reduce the incidence of regiol disparity, spatially, temporally, hierarchically and functiolly.
Magement of Integration Process
Obvious enough, integrated farming calls for skill in different types of activity [such as raising pigs and poultry, crop and vegetable farming, growing grass and aquatic plants and farming of fish]. If integrated farming has to be done successfully on a large scale, a sufficient number of people with the required skills have to work together as a team. With the introduction of integrated farming, the organizatiol and accounting unit is to be changed to production-brigade-level. The main motivation for integrated farming emates from the acceptance of the tiol policy of all-round development where the economic benefits of individual operations do not figure very prominently compared to the overall process wherein of course the former is well recognized in the context of overall regiol development.
It has since been abundantly made clear that the concept of an integrated approach refers not only to its multi-sectoral ture but also to the broad range of actors involved. Intertiol non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the United tions and its agencies, multilateral fincial institutions like the WTO, World Bank, and IMF, regiol associations, private sector donors and investors, local governments, communities, families, and individuals all have a role to play in integrated development efforts.
The challenge, of course, is to coordite the efforts so that they complement, not contradict each other. In the process it is very much a realistic logical expectation that the local people, those who are affected by the development, must be allowed to take the lead in directing, implementing, and evaluating the projects in as much as local ownership is the goal toward which all of the other players must be working. Steps must be there to ensure that casting too wide a net should not be counterproductive and discouraging. Development partners must strike a balance between being conscious of the complexities and broad implications of their actions and remaining focused on targeted, well-planned initiatives, as rightly assessed by the UN’s ECOSOC.
The Way Ahead
Further innovations as well as increased productivity are necessary to push the integrated farming system almost to perfection. Filly, the climate change factors must not be overlooked. Can we deny the fact that traditiol agricultural practices were extremely efficient, admirably adapted to local social, ecological and climatic conditions and eminently sustaible? Any change to be initiated must have the reflection of local knowledge, resources, and practices, among others. Overnight change cannot be there, as simple as this. We may start doing all of a sudden something hitherto unknown to an area, say, but can this be sustained? Acceptability is the most crucial factor. Any change, if myopic, is better avoided. Agricultural development — an essential part of the development process — involves above all massively increasing “off-farm inputs” such as hybrid seeds, artificial fertilizer, pesticides, and irrigation water and farm machinery.
(Dr Mukhopadhyay, a noted magement economist and an intertiol commentator on business and economic affairs, can be located at email@example.com)