Monocropping and Monolivestock systems are not sustainable

Agriculture for ages was a means for the sustenance of the family and the local community provided services like blacksmith, mason, carpenter, washerman, tailer, cobbler etc.  Livestock always supported the farmer by providing draught animals for cultivation and transport milk and meat, plant nutrient and also financial support at the time of distress to the farmer.  But, the industrialisation gradually influenced them to grow raw materials for the industry, and food for the huge urban population sacrificing his own and his supportive community’s food security.  Adding to this misery, in the name of technology and increased profit, imposed  high cost external inputs such as machinery for cultivation, chemical fertilisers for manuring, hybrid and high yielding seeds, chemical pesticides to save the crops from insects and diseases and even post harvest preservative chemical fumigants.  This resulted in farmers’ total dependancy on agro industries for all his input needs.  Such technologies made him to discontinue the age old practices of animal husbandry as machines were used for agricultural operations and chemical fertiliser to replace farm yard manure without knowing their importance and mutual relationship with the land, tree, water, animal and man.  Earlier, with interdependent system, they used to have varieties of animals like cows or buffaloes, sheep or goats, chicken or pigs according the availability of feed mostly from their own farm byproducts, not depending on the market.  With the main intention of producing for the market they adopted monocropping and monolivestock systems, which could not support each other.  Apart from dependancy being created, the incidences of pest and diseases increased necessitating the use of huge quantity of agro chemicals and pharmaceuticals to protect the crops and also their animals.

After experiencing all these hardships or learning from others experiences some farmers have successfully adopted integrated farming systems and livestock production.  Most of the agricultural byproducts like hay, stalks, husks and even weeds among their crops are being used for feeding livestock.  Similarly, byproducts of the livestock, like excreta and urine could be used to produce cooking gas and make good compost as manure, saving lot of money and time.  Such small scale livestock production would bring money at the time of distress and also provide milk, meat, skin etc. to the farmers and the local community.  Instead, monocropping and monolivestock production has necessitated the rural community to get most of their household requirements from the market at a high cost.  More than these problems, the availability and the quality is very bad in most cases.  So, the farmers have to grow different varieties of food crops to meet their own needs and also for the local community and create food security at a very low cost.  Each family should have atleast three varieties of livestock like sheep or goat, cow or buffalo, chicken or pig according to the availability of fodder and other resources.  This makes the availability of egg, milk, meat etc. at the village level and also cheaper than getting them from the market.  Since agriculture and livestock breeding are interdependent there is no way that a farmer is either only a crop cultivator or only a livestock breeder.  To become selfsufficient in agriculture and animal husbandry farmer has to utilise natural resources like dry leaves, green manure, tanksilt, very carefully without over exploitation.  He should also grow more trees for soil and water conservation, to produce more green manure, fodder, food, fuel and timber, to support the farmer, both in agricultural production and livestock breeding.

Farmers have to search and preserve indigenous varieties of seeds and breeds of animals that are more tolerant to drought situations and diseases and insect problems.  They have to use more of organic matter, compost, vermicompost, green manure, bio-fertilisers, fermented plant extracts, adopt crop rotation systems for plant nutrition and use herbal extracts for plant protection to improve crop yields at a cheaper cost.  Similarly, they should breed their own chicklings, and heifers, grow green fodders to minimise the cost of fodder and concentrates.  Another benefit of mixed farming is the efficient use of family labour throughout the year.  Very recently, I came across a scientist from “Save the Soil” association, Japan, who is popularising a simple and cheap technology of enriching soil fertility and protecting the crops from pests and diseases by using effective micro-organisms.  They are introducing into compost, land and also foliar application which is also ecofriendly.  Such simple and cheaper adaptions both in agriculture and animal husbandry have to be popularised to help the farmers to come out of the debt trap and dependancy they got into by adopting mono cropping and monolivestock systems.


L. Narayana Reddy


Via Maralenahalli

Hanabe PO

Doddaballapura Taluk 561 201

Ph : 914 51360 / 08119-51360


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