Crop diversification refers to the addition of new crops or cropping systems to agricultural production on a particular farm taking into account the different returns in socio-economic and environmental terms. Due to diverse set of climates, soil types and cultures, India has diverse range of cropping systems.
The challenges before crop diversification:
- Impact of Green Revolution: There has been shift towards Mono cropping of wheat and rice at cost of coarse grains (Government policy of MSP).
- Monsoon Dependence: Around 55% of India’s Cultivable Land is Rain-fed with heavy dependence on monsoon.
- Fragmented land holding: It makes it difficult to use efficient modern technology on large scale, raises cost of land boundary management, land disputes etc.
- Shift from Food crops to Commercial Crops: This especially includes Cotton in Deccan belt; and Sugarcane in Green revolution belt and Krishna-Godavari basin.
- Other Factors:
- Human factors: Heavy Population Pressure on agriculture and continuation of subsistence farming
- Technical Factors: Lack of High Yielding Varieties (HYV) of seeds, usage of old implements, lack of weather forecasting usage amongst others.
- Institutional factors: It includes defective land tenure system (leading to land fallowing), improper marketing and processing of perishable products (e.g vegetables, fruits).
- Infrastructural Factors: Poor basic infrastructure like rural roads, power, transport, communications etc. Along with inadequate post-harvest processing infrastructure.
Emerging Technologies and opportunities provided by them:
- IT Revolution: It is helping to connect farmers directly with grocery-customers ( farm to fork model) leading to cultivation of high value perishable products (e.g Big Basket, BlinkIt startup platforms)
- Aquaponics and Urban Farming: To meet the heavy urban demand for Persisahble items, this technique of controlled environment cultivation is helping in crop diversification.
- Financial Inclusion and Digitization: It has helped small farmers, women SHGs to ensure crop diversification through credit supply.
- Irrigation: PM Krishi Sinchai Yojna has ensured access to micro irrigation (Per Drop More Crop), drip irrigation, sprinklers etc.
- Dryland Agriculture: Indo-Israel Agriculture Project has introduced technologies like Urea Deep Placement (UDP), Poly-bag Nursery farming etc in arid areas(e.g Rajasthan has seen cultivation of strawberries and olives).
- Soil Health Management: It has helped ensuring right Fertilizer usage, developing Organic Framing, providing GIS based thematic mapping for soil.(e.g. Soil Health Card)
Thus, these emerging technologies should be made integral part of Mission to double farmer’s income by 2022 as recommended by Ashok Dalwai Committee.