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Sustainability through diversified farming

Amandeep Singh  and Gurpreet Kour

Diversified farming not only generates multiple returns but also keeps the costs low, when integrated. Sukhjeet shows that integrated farming not only provides food and income security but also keeps him employed all through the year – a model worth emulating.


Sukhjeet Singh is an educated youth belonging to a small hamlet in rural Punjab called Biroke Kalan in Mansa district in Punjab. After a brief stint in his employment, he wanted to return to farming and start his own farm based enterprise. During his childhood, Sukhjeet has seen his father S. Bhola Singh rearing pigs for meeting nutritional needs of the family and was therefore not new to farming.

Sukhjeet raises 10000 fingerlings in a fish pond spread across two acres of land

The beginning of diversification

Sukhjeet has been growing food and fodder on his land which meets the needs of his family and the dairy animals. He cultivates two to three crops every year on his land.

In 2015, Sukhjeet started goat, pig and fish farming, along with his friends, Randhir Singh and Chandra Muni Sukhjeet, as partners. Before starting the enterprise Sukhjeet got trained for 5 days on goat farming and 7 days on pig farming from Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), Mansa. He was also trained on fish farming by Guru Angad Veterinary & Animal Sciences University (GADVASU).

Sukhjeet constructed a fish pond on 2 acres. He set up a goat farm on 0.125 acres and pig farm on 0.125 acres of his land. In the beginning of 2018, he further diversified his farming business by constructing a poultry farm on scientific lines with a capacity of 7500 birds and started rearing broilers. Before starting his broiler farm, he got trained from KVK, Mansa.

Integration

The livestock and fish production units are on a small scale, but the farms are interdependent on each other. Waste from one farm is used as a resource for the other. The goat and pig feaces are washed into the fish pond along with the dung from the dairy animals. He does not use any feed for the fishes and the wastes from the animal sheds serve as both feed for fishes and fertilizer for the fish pond. Agriculture waste is fed to the goats and kitchen waste is fed to the pigs. All these adjustments have helped him to curtail costs of animal feeding and enhanced his farm economics.

Production and Sustainability

Being educated and a skilled farmer, Sukhjeet maintains his farms on scientific lines. He presently has about 10,000 fingerlings in his pond and sells fish once a year. He has 9 pregnant sows and 2 boars along with 12 piglets in his pig farm belonging to Large White Yorkshire breed. He sells pregnant sows and piglets from his farm at regular intervals. Presently, there are 65 does and 5 bucks. The goat breeds which he rears are Totapari, Beetal, Sirohi, Barbari and some other local breeds. He sells pregnant does and kids from his goat farm.

Recycling resources among various enterprises

has curtailed the costs of animal feeding and

has enhanced the farm economics.

Feed costs are reduced by feeding goats with crop wastes

His monthly income from goat, pig and fish farm is estimated to Rs. 80,000/-. Since inception of his poultry farm, he has marketed four lots of broiler chicken and has earned Rs. 60,000/- per lot. Not only the integrated farming has helped him earn healthy sums of profit by cutting costs of farming but also entailed year round employment for him.

Learning and connecting with farmers

Sukhjeet is closely associated with the farmers of his region.  He advises and motivates new farmers for undertaking the livestock business and helps with backward and forward linkages. Sukhjeet has developed contacts with Subject Matter Specialists of KVK, Scientists of PAU and GADVASU and approaches them whenever there is a problem. After troubleshooting his problems, he shares his experience with other farmers.

Sukhjeet is very active on social media too. He uses social media for sharing knowledge and experience on diverse farm enterprises. As he is educated, he keeps reading livestock related articles from magazines, websites and mobile apps and shares with others. He uses WhatsApp and Facebook groups to promote livestock farming, for linking different stakeholders, and for getting information on advanced practices from peers. Sukhjeet runs social media groups on fish farming, goat farming, pig farming and poultry farming.

Newly arrived chicks in poultry farm

Future Plans

Sukhjeet plans to expand his farms by constructing new farms and renovating the old ones. He has plans to bid for fish farm owned by his Panchayat in auction and start farming there as well. Further, he wishes to expand his fish pond to 4 acres as he says that minimal input is required for fish farming and the business is quite profitable.

Conclusion

Sukhjeet is a dedicated individual and one of the most progressive farmers of his region. He has not only diversified his farming activities but also integrated them in such a way that the waste generated by one farm is serving as a resource to the other farm, thus keeping the costs of production low. Further, integration of fishery, goatery, piggery and poultry has enabled food security as well as year round employment.

Sukhjeet is also a member of progressive farmers’ associations. He serves as a perfect example for diversified and sustainable farming. He has not only created livelihood for himself but also provides employment to others from his village. He serves as a role model for unemployed youth of the country to take up integrated farming for sustainable livelihoods.

Amandeep Singh

MVSc Scholar, Division of Extension Education

ICAR-Indian Veterinary Research Institute

Izatnagar, Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh – 243122

Email: amandeepsinghvet@gmail.com