Farmers of Bangladesh generally practice subsistence farming (nowadays transforming commercial farming and mechanization) where they need to produce a continuous, reliable, and balanced supply of nutritious foods, as well as cash for basic needs and recurrent farm expenditure. Therefore, there is a need to develop suitable integrated farm management systems for such farmers, since single crop production enterprises are subject to a high degree of risk and uncertainty because of seasonal, irregular, and uncertain income and employment to the farmers.
Integrated farm management can eradicate all these constraints by not only solving most of the existing economic and even ecological problems, but also provide other household needs like fuel, fertilizer, and nutritious feed, besides increasing productivity of the farm manifold. It will ensure zero hunger through ensuring availability of food, access to food, and equal distribution of nutritious food to all members of the family.
The goals of the Zero Hunger initiative are to end hunger and make sure that enough nutritious foods are available to people by 2030 if we adopt integrated farm management practices. Other aspects of the goal include ending all forms of malnutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture.
An outline of integrated farming management
A farm is a field of production spread over a farmer’s fields and dwellings; ie, it is where any production takes place. IFM involves a combination of all the advanced technologies of a single component of the farm with the use of by-products of one component of another component of the farm. The desired yield is achieved through optimum use of resources through integration of improved technology across farm components (rice cultivation, homestead fruit and vegetable cultivation, poultry/chicken rearing, cattle rearing, goat/sheep rearing, fish farming and off farm activities) and considering their inter-relationships.
A judicious mix of agricultural enterprises like dairy, poultry, fishery, etc suited to the given agro-climatic conditions and socioeconomic status of the farmers would bring prosperity in the farming. Integrated homestead, crop, fisheries, and livestock production systems are highly efficient; potentially crop residues are used as livestock feed; the waste products are fed into biogas digesters and the effluent used to fertilize ponds for aquatic plant/algae production with fish farming as the terminal activity.
Importance of integrated farm management
Through integrated farm management, the farmer identifies all the resources of his farm and makes the best use of the resources considering their inter-relationships. It can increase the total production of the farm and make more profit.
To solve the problem of the farm, you will identify the farm’s own resources — that is, all the by-products of the farm are used very effectively in the production system of the other. The farmer will use the by-products of the material such as cow dung, straw, ash, chicken droppings, broken rice, etc and see if there is an opportunity to add any new material to the farm and, if necessary, buy it from the market and use it to increase the total production of the farm and get more profit.
For instance, using cow dung, hay, ash, chicken droppings, etc in rice production will ensure more production than using different chemical fertilizers from the market. That is, along with rice production, the by-products of poultry farming, cow farming, goat/sheep farming are used. Again, rice straw, etc are used in poultry farming, cow farming, or goat/sheep farming. Another example can be homestead bamboo being used in paddy cultivation, rabi crop cultivation, homestead fruit and vegetable cultivation, poultry farming, cattle rearing, goat/sheep rearing and fish farming etc; ie forming an interrelationship with the production of various productive factors and their by-products.
Aggregate production should be increased by strengthening the existing linkages. That is, improving the management of all components of the farm (rice cultivation, homestead fruit and vegetable cultivation, poultry/chicken rearing, cow rearing, goat/sheep rearing and fish farming), and ensuring optimal utilization of resources. Integrated farm management is more profitable by increasing the total production of the farm. IFM will ensure women empowerment, employment opportunities, and also ensure livelihood development of farm households.
Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman realized that the development of agriculture is the economic liberation of the farmer. That is why he called for a green revolution after independence. He dreamt of Bangladesh free from hunger and poverty. The father of the nation said about the goal of achieving self-sufficiency in food, one should not depend on others for food. We have to produce our own food. Why should we beg for food from others? By combining our fertile land, our inexhaustible natural resources, our industrious people, our research and extension work, we will achieve food self-sufficiency. It’s just a matter of time.
Over time, the country has become self-sufficient in food under the visionary leadership of Bangabandhu’s daughter, Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Bangladesh ranks 3rd in rice production, 3rd in vegetable production, 7th in mango production, 8th in potato and guava production. Arable land has decreased, population has doubled but food production has increased almost 4 times. Bangabandhu prioritized food security to build the newly independent country.
But if integrated farm management cannot be developed then our agricultural development will be hampered, we will not be able to ensure our desired production. We will fall far behind. If we advance through cooperative society, our agricultural production and overall development will get both dimensions. We all need to give utmost importance to an integrated farming system for more crop production. Crops in the field, livestock, fish, and environment will be harmoniously coordinated. Otherwise we will not be able to progress as desired.
Many may be interested in understanding Bangabandhu’s allocation of money for the development of agriculture. Bangabandhu said on February 13, 1973 at the convocation ceremony of Bangladesh Agricultural University, that food does not mean only rice, flour, and corn but also fish, meat, eggs, milk, vegetables. Therefore, to improve agriculture, the production of these food grains must be improved. Bangabandhu thought that food is needed first. All development activities will fail if food is not guaranteed. So they have to produce their own food by adopting integrated farm management.
Agriculture is still the major sector providing employment in Bangladesh. The Father of the Nation dreamt of a Bangladesh free from hunger and poverty. In his dream of a Golden Bengal, he wanted to see the all-round development and self-reliance of the country’s agriculture and farmers.
Good agricultural practices are holistic agricultural practices that ensure safe and quality food and non-food agricultural products are readily available, protect the environment, and strengthen the economy and society. Home-grown agricultural products will play a major role in food security. Therefore, if integrated farm management can be established at every farmer’s house, zero hunger, safe food and nutritional security of the country will be ensured.
Dr Jagot Chand Malaker is Project Director, Department of Agricultural Extension.