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Agriculture Diversification: Crop Diversification

Introduction


The fundamental approach to agricultural diversification should be comprehensive in character, including the traditional expertise of local farmers as well. In addition to crop components, livestock, fisheries, and other supportive measures should be included for practicability and wide-scale implementation.


Diversified agriculture is essential for feeding the world's population sustainably and in perpetuity while mitigating climate change and preventing the collapse of the natural systems on which human life depends.


Barahnaja is a crop diversification system that cultivates 12 crops in a year in India's Garhwal Himalayan area. 'Barah anaaj' literally means '12 foodgrains' and is the area's traditional heritage.


Agroforestry


Agroforestry is a significant land-use system for diversification in a variety of biological, ecological, economic, and social contexts worldwide. Throughout the world, several agroforestry methods have been critical in crop diversification.


Agroforestry is a land-use system that incorporates trees, crops, and/or cattle spatially and temporally while balancing the ecological and economic interactions of biotic and abiotic components. It makes use of the complementarity between vegetation to maximize the use of available resources.


Agroforestry may be used to provide food, fodder, fiber, fuel as well as other items that contribute to food and nutritional security. Additionally, it may help sustain livelihoods and foster productive, resilient agricultural landscapes across all ecologies.



Why Diversify


Growing a broad crop mix may help farmers diversify their markets and mitigate the effects of commodity price changes. As a result, earnings will not be dependent on a single market. It will save them from price fluctuations and reduce dependency.


Overall, strategic diversification enhances the economic picture. An alternate crop's gross revenue may be greater, but production expenses may be lower. Adding legumes to a rotation, for example, minimises the requirement for nitrogen fertiliser. Furthermore, rotations that contain three or more crops often have fewer pest issues — and hence need fewer pesticides.


Additionally, monocropping patterns increase the likelihood of crops being attacked by insects and pests, which forces the farmers to use insecticides and pesticides. This results in the accumulation of toxic compounds in the soil, polluting the soil, crop, and environment. More diversified ecosystems are typically more stable: they can endure disruptions and recover faster than less diverse ones. Healthy soils, for example, that have been enriched and renewed by rotation and cover crops enhance root growth and water infiltration, making them less susceptible to disease.


The Punjab Economic survey noted that agricultural income growth can be kick-started only by diversifying into high-value commodities like horticulture, pulses, oilseeds, and livestock. This enables producers to capitalize on the increased demand for certain goods and optimize resource use.


According to the Dalwai Committee, farmers may earn an extra '80,000 per hectare by switching from staples to horticulture. Diversification into livestock has already benefited farmers in several regions—poultry in Maharashtra, dairy in Punjab's Moga district, and shrimp in Andhra Pradesh have all brought success.


Introduce incentives to encourage farmers to diversify their crops. Haryana has made strides with the Mera Pani, Meri Virasat initiative, which pays farmers '7,000 per acre for growing crops other than rice, like cotton, maize, and pulses. This can be enhanced to act as a minimum guarantee for the farmer shifting from a staple.


Finally, although these measures are intended to boost the supplier (the farmer), the demand side must also increase. A robust agri-processing industry will minimize post-harvest losses and boost value addition for exports, resulting in the creation of thousands of non-farm employment.


It will diversify India's agricultural export basked and give us an edge over others by enhancing our competitiveness.


It will also serve consumers' interests by providing greater choices.


Conclusion


India falling into the tropical and subtropical region is naturally gifted, it is endowed with a variety of soils and diverse climatic conditions perfectly suitable for Agriculture. India has rich climatic diversity and we have not utilized it to the fullest. Owing to various policies and dietary needs farmers have gotten stuck with selective narrow crops for which they are now paying a hefty economic and ecological cost. This is a twin-pronged issue that can be resolved by adopting diversified agricultural practices. It will enhance income, make agriculture sustainable, and would also make agriculture a profitable enterprise.




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