Role of integrated crop-livestock systems in improving agriculture production and addressing food security – A review
Udayakumar Sekaran, Liming Lai, David A.N. Ussiri, Sandeep Kumar, Sharon Clay
Integrated crop-livestock systems (ICLS) can be productive, sustainable, and climate-resilient agricultural systems compared to specialized and intensive systems. This review explores the beneficial traits and contributions of ICLS to food security, social and economic benefits, and resilience, and proposes strategies to adopt ICLSs in low-, medium-, and high-income countries. Currently, global food security faces two main challenges. First, one in nine people do not have sufficient protein and energy in their diet, of those 50% are smallholder subsistence farmers and 20% are landless families in the low-and medium-income countries (LMICs). Second, specialized
intensive agricultural practices often cause soil and environmental degradation. ICLS is an agricultural practice that could play a significant role in mitigating these challenges. The diversified cropping systems in ICLS can improve the productivity of the principal crop as well as enhance food security through increasing nutritional
indicators such as food consumption score and household dietary diversity especially for rural households. An ICLS, therefore, could be a key for achieving food and nutritional security and environmental sustainability both in short and long-terms. While ICLS practices have increased over time, there are still adoption challenges due to lack of investment, sustainable awareness, lack of skills by the producers, and market competition. In LMICs, successful implementation of ICLS requires organizational and/or institutional support to create new marketing
opportunities and adoption of ICLS can be improved if government policies provide capital, markets, and educational services to subsistence farmers. These government policies can also increase the producer’s knowledge, change farmer’s attitudes and enhance trust in organic matter management for sustainable soil management. Therefore, agricultural scientists are challenged to provide fundamental and credible information to integrate crop and livestock production systems so that worldwide adoption of ICLS can be used to increase the agricultural production compatible with food and nutrition security.