Technology, infrastructure and enterprise trade-off: Strengthening smallholder farming systems in Tamil Nadu State of India for sustainable income and food security

Varadan, R J and Mamidanna, S and Shalander, K and Ahmed, S K Z and Jaisankar, I (2022) Technology, infrastructure and enterprise trade-off: Strengthening smallholder farming systems in Tamil Nadu State of India for sustainable income and food security. Outlook on Agriculture (TSI). pp. 1-16. ISSN 0030-7270

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The complexities of smallholder farming systems pose a challenge in demonstrating the potential benefits or risks of new technologies and policies. Using Integrated Analysis Tool, a rule-based dynamic simulation model, this study tried to improve the performance of major farming systems in the Tamil Nadu State of India. Amongst the four major farming systems viz. Black gram-based (BFS), Paddy-based (PFS), and Integrated Farming Systems (IFS) in Villupuram district and Dryland Farming System (DFS) in Virudhunagar district, IFS was found to be the most profitable and resilient based on their performance simulated for a 3-year rotation. Setting IFS as a benchmark, potential interventions were evaluated under other farming systems to improve their relative performance. The analysis allowed understanding the interactions in smallholder farming systems and the potential impact of interventions in a whole farm way considering the cash flows, cost intensity, and input-output trade-offs. While multi-bloom technology in black gram increased the net profit of BFS without much stress on input and labour, area expansion under rainfed groundnut incurred high expenditure. Trading-off paddy with maize and groundnut significantly increased the net profit of PFS but replacing sugarcane with tapioca and turmeric was not remunerative. Improved livestock management practices have substantially increased the net profit of DFS wherein crop yield could not be enhanced substantially without the prospects of good irrigation infrastructure. The irrigation endowed PFS has achieved 90% performance, whereas the water-starved BFS and DFS could achieve only 65% performance of IFS. We conclude that agricultural policy must not only focus on potential interventions that are profitable but also consider what is acceptable to the farmer, considering synergies and trade-offs between competing resources at the farm level.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Global Research Program - Enabling Systems Transformation
CRP: CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legumes and Dryland Cereals (GLDC)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Smallholder farming system, Whole-farm model, Simulation, Relative performance, Sustainability
Subjects: Others > Smallholder Farmers
Others > Sustainable Agriculture
Others > Food Security
Depositing User: Mr Arun S
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2022 08:00
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2022 08:00
Official URL:
Acknowledgement: This work is the output of three-month Professional Attachment Training undergone by first author at ICRISAT under the guidance of third author. The first author is grateful to the Director, ICAR-CIARI for granting permission and the Director General, ICRISAT for accepting his candidature and sponsoring the data collection. The authors thank Ethiraj, Natraj and Janaki, Agricultural Officers of Villupuram and Virudhunagar for helping in data collection. The third author acknowledges the funding from CGIAR Research Program on Grain Legume and Dryland Systems through CGIAR Fund Donors and bilateral funding agreements.
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