An optimization study of integrated agriculture production systems for meeting household food, fodder and fuel demands : a case study in the dryland region of India
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For the nearly 70% of India’s population of 1.2 billion who reside in rural villages, agriculture is often the primary source of income, as well as of food, fodder and fuel. Rural agricultural systems are recognized as complex mixed-cropping-livestock systems, whereby primary and secondary products from one component of the system are used in another. For instance, primary products such as grain and milk from livestock can be used for human consumption, while secondary products such as crop residues can be used as fodder or fuel, while manure finds use as fertilizer. Variations in cropping pattern and intensity will determine the production potential of food, fodder and fuel within a region. As limiting factors, land area and yield must also be considered in agricultural planning activities. The present research aims to develop a rational method for crop selection within a particular agro-ecoregion. An optimization model is constructed to optimize for selected parameters that are set to maintain defined basic minimum standards for human nutritional and livestock fodder demands. An agricultural survey was carried out in 2007 for three villages in Karnataka State, India. All three villages were located within the dryland agro-ecozone, where crop yields are relatively low. The survey was stratified according to household landholding area ranging from marginal (0-1 ha) to large (>4 ha). Information was solicited on the demographic indicators of the population, the cropping cycle and cropping varieties used within the regions, and certain livestock parameters were gathered. Various demands, such as human food energy and protein requirements as well as fodder, and constraints, such as land area, were modeled to determine the potential for food, fodder and fuel production under optimal cropping pattern. The linear programming software, What’sBest, Version 9.0 from LINDO systems, was used to solve the optimization model. Results indicate that the current export-driven cropping pattern produces inadequate food to satisfy human nutritional demands at the village level, particularly among marginal and small households, who produce in the range of only 10 and 50 % of required food energy and protein, respectively, on a household basis. The current cropping pattern is also inadequate to satisfy village-wide livestock fodder demand, especially in villages heavily centered on cash crops,wherein only 30-40 % of fodder demand can be accounted for. On an individual household level, it is determined that a minimum 0.8 ha of land area is required to satisfy both food and fodder demands, placing strain on marginal households, who own less then 1 ha of land. The optimization model also demonstrates that it is possible to produce adequate food and fodder for both human and livestock consumption within the land area available in all the villages, if between 30-60% of land area is cultivated with food-based crops used for village wide consumption. This would require diversion of between 50 and 90 % of current land area under oilseeds and commercial crops to cereal based crops. In villages that cultivate sufficient proportion of cereal and pulse based food crops, as little as 4 % diversion of crops towards cereals may be necessary. Results also indicate that double cropping systems can generate crop residues sufficient to provide fuel for generation of 2.6-11.3 kWh/hh/day of electricity, adequate for cooking and lighting; this could be done at the same time as providing enough primary product to satisfy food and fodder needs.