[Answered] What do you understand by crop diversification, and how is it helpful in saving the farming sector of India?

Introduction: Define crop diversification.
Body: Write why there is need of crop diversification in India. Write how crop diversification can help farming sector in India.
Conclusion: Conclude giving a way forward.

Crop diversification means growing more than one crop in an area. Diversification can be accomplished by adding a new crop species or different variety, or by changing the cropping system currently in use. It takes the different returns from value-added crops into account with complementary marketing opportunities. 

In India the continued practice of wheat and paddy crop production pattern since the Green Revolution has created several problems for the farming sector in India 

  • Loss of particular nutrients from soil leading to bad soil health. 
  • Farming of paddy in water deficient areas led to lowering of water table.  
  • Mono cropping has led to increased pest attacks. 
  • Use of pesticides and fertilizers to address nutrient deficiency has led to soil and water pollution. It causes loss of microfauna in the soil. 
  • All these factors together have caused low productivity of farms and low income of farmers. 
  • Emphasis on wheat and paddy limits the diversity of food available which has implications for nutritional security. 

Crop diversification can help save the farming sector in India. 

  • Improving soil health: It can improve the soil biodiversity and balance the nutrients in soil. Which will improve soil health and productivity. For example, cultivation of legumes can enrich the soil by fixing atmospheric nitrogen. 
  • Increasing Farmer’s income: Crop diversification will provide farmers with diverse sources of income, while ensuring the risk of loss of income is reduced in case of crop failure. Especially for farmers with small and marginal land holdings. 
  • Reducing the risk of crop failure: As different crops respond to climate scenarios in different ways, the risk of total crop failure is reduced. 
  • Food and Nutritional Security: It will increase the availability and access of nutritional foods which will result in better nutritional outcomes. 
  • Price and market stability: Crop diversification can better tolerate the ups and downs in price of various farm products and it may ensure economic stability of farming products. 
  • Increased access to national and international markets: With a variety of produce farmers can access international and national markets. 
  • Environmental conservation: It will allow for climate-smart agriculture, like growing less water intensive crops in water deficient areas which will save water and allow the water table to recover. 

The government must promote crop diversification by providing Minimum Support price for different crops other than paddy and wheat. It should also focus on skill development and awareness of farmers and using technological interventions to enable the faster take up of crop diversification. 

If pursued objectively crop diversification provides an opportunity to double farmers income and create food and nutritional security for the nation. 

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