Improving farming systems by involving youth

Agriculture, inspite of new technologies, seems to be a losing proposition to most of the farmers. In such situations, many farmers particularly the youth tend to disassociate with the profession, seeking greener pastures elsewhere. There is a need therefore, to prove that farming is still viable when certain systems and practices are followed based on the existing local conditions.

Presented below is a case which proves that young farmers when guided and motivated could make a difference to their lives through farming.

Case of Mr. Mandal

Sri Dipak Mandal, a small  farmer from Banamalipara village of  Nadia district in West Bengal had 1.4 ha (138m x 99m) of land under low-lying rice eco-system. The entire area is submerged under water up to 5-8 feet from beginning of the rainy season to the month of December disabling any cultivation. The land was usually kept fallow during rainy season. After cessation of rainfall, the traditional rice cultivar was grown which  yielded at sub-marginal level. In short, farming had become a non-remunerative enterprise.

Mr. Mandal, the young farmer in the family was disheartened with the continous low yields and wanted to develop his family land taking the help of the department expertise. This was the time when ICAR along with the Department of Agriculture, West Bengal took up participatory research to promote integrated farming systems (IFS) for effective utilization of low land eco-system in Banamalipara village.

Involving interested farmers

A meeting was held with the farmers cooperative society. Farmers wishing to take up trials were invited to participate in the programme. The young farmer, Mr. Mandal who had decided to do something better on his farm, immediatley accepted to take up the trial on his farm. He willingly approached the officials to learn the new systems of managing the lowlands for improving yields.

Undertaking trials on IFS

The total area under trial was 1.4 ha. Perimeter ditches (138m x 22m) with a depth of 3 feet were excavated inside the plot during winter months. An embankment of size 138m x 20m (0.28 ha) was made. The net available water area was 1.07 ha from June to December having perimeter ditches of 0.30 ha. The entire area had water up to 5-8 feet from beginning of the rainy season to the month of December and no crop could be grown from June-December. Indian major carps (mixed), catla, rohu, mrigal were stocked in the month of June at the rate of 6000 fingerlings /ha. The fishes were fed rice bran and cow dung at the rate of 1:1.

The area for growing rice during summer season was was 0.79 ha. When the excess water drained away in the month of December, a high yielding rice of 120 days duration (Gotra I) was transplanted in the 3rd week of January. Standard water management practices were followed. Dykes were made along the periphery of rice crop prior to application of plant protection chemicals, to prevent the drainage of washing.

The hybrid (F1) tomato (Abhinas-2) was sown in seedbed on second week of August and transplanted at a distance of 50 cm (row to row and plant to plant) during the last week of August covering the embankment area. The tomatoes were ready for harvest by the end of November and yielded on an average 4.0 kg/plant thus gave a substantial yield of about 20 tons for the entire embankment area. Bitter gourd was sown in the month of December, which was followed by tomato again.

Using resources efficiently

The main advantage of the integrated farming with rice, fish and vegetables was effective utilization of low land eco-system, where nothing could be grown from the month of June to December. Both land and water resources were effectively utilized by taking up fish farming during June –December followed by rice cultivation during summer (February-May). During both the seasons, cultivation of tomato (September-February) and bitter gourd (December-May) were taken up simultaneously. By this not only there was increase in returns but also labour was fully employed. Water productivity was greatly enhanced because of it being put to multiple uses.


New ideas are difficult to be put into practice, particularly by those who have been farming traditionally over years. Therefore it is of utmost importance that the youth be targeted for such participatory extension approaches to gain quick acceptance and implementation.

By adopting this system of integrated farming with fish-rice-vegetables in a piece of land which was only marginally productive, the possibility of getting a net return of Rs. 1.06 to 1.08 lakhs per annum was realised by Mr. Mandal. Mandal having tasted the success in farming, was also able to convince his family and other farmers in adopting this system. Now, Mandal is a motivated youth who wants to make his livelihood through farming.


Ghosh, Apurba and Chakraborty, PK,1991. Recent investigation on paddy-cum-fish culture in Coastal and inland water. Aquaculture Productivity,Ed:Sinha, VRP and Srivastava,HC. Oxford & IBH pp479-484

Thakur, DP and Thakur, MK,1991. Integrated Agriculture- Aquaculture- Animal Husbandry Farming System. Pp 475-477

Prof. (Dr.) A. Zaman, Chief Scientist (Water Management), AICPR on Water Management (ICAR), BCKV Centre, Gayeshpur-741 235, West Bengal, email:


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