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CAB Reviews

A reviews journal covering agriculture, global health, nutrition, natural resources and veterinary science

CAB Review

Energy self-sufficient sustainable integrated farming systems for livelihood security under a changing climate scenario in an Indian context: a case-study approach.


The farming systems of the world have to meet multiple demands, e.g. supporting livelihood, conserving biodiversity, off-setting emissions and adapting to climate change. As a traditional way of farming in India, an integrated farming system (IFS) represents multiple crops (cereals, legumes, tree crops, vegetables, etc.) and multiple enterprises (livestock production, fish farming, bee keeping, etc.) on a single farm. Taking a case-study approach, we analyse the economics, calculate energy balances and describe the resource flows within such an integrated farm. Additionally, the concept of an IFS that makes these farms energy self-sufficient (or even in surplus), especially in modern forms of energy, is discussed. We argue for integrating renewable energy production possibilities, i.e. wind energy, solar energy, biofuels and biogas production, within these farms. Such farms can mitigate carbon emissions and offer resilience to probable climatic changes. Owing to the presence of diverse environments and various trophic levels, it can also support multiple species and hence have a role in biodiversity conservation. The study is a novel attempt to bring energy security to rural India while addressing climate change and biodiversity concerns. It should lead to ensuring sustainable livelihood options for small-holder farmers in India and potentially has global relevance. A number of policy options that may facilitate the transition are also briefly discussed.