Low level of agriculture productivity is a serious problem in India. One of the reason behind this problem is high number of small farm land holdings. The majority of land holdings in India — 86 percent — are small and marginal. In that context crop combination and crop diversification present a good solution for increasing farm productivity
Difference between crop combination and crop diversification
Crop combination is a practice of growing two or more different crop at the same time on same farm land. For example wheat and mustard. Crop diversification on the other hand is a practice of producing multiple crop on same farm land in a particular year. For example rice in monsoon session, less water intensive crops in summer session and oil pulses or millets in winter session.
Crop combination focus over efficient use of resources like water, fertilizer etc. and minimizing wastage of resources. Focus of Crop diversification on the other hand, is overprotecting the soil fertility and promoting crops that are suitable to one particular agro-climatic region.
Increasing Agriculture Productivity through Crop Diversification and Crop Combination
Number of crop will increase within a session through the use of these practices. Farmers will be able to produce more on the same piece of land. In turn, this will help small and marginal farmers to reduce their dependence from single crop. These practices will help in reducing depends over chemical fertilizers and saving farmers input investment in producing same crop. For example, pulses production will increase the presence of nitrogen in soil thus reducing its artificial use for the next crop. Less risk of price fluctuations is another added benefit that crop diversification will ensure, better economic return for frames on each agriculture session.
As they can produce more variety of crops to sell into the market. Protection against climate change induced risks is another added benefit of crop diversification. Farm waste management and reduction in overall production of agriculture induced pollutant material can be achieve by these practices. Soil fertility will increase with the practice of crop diversification and crop combination.
Steps taken by the government
- Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana: Program run by the Ministry of Agriculture to promote the process of diversity in crop production. The focus of this scheme is more on those areas where mono-culture (Single crop) farm practice is high.
- Crops Diversification Program (CDP) for replacing paddy crop with less water consuming alternative crops to save water and protect the soil in the state of Punjab.
- Increasing Minimum support price (MSP) on other not so produces agricultural items. For example millets
- Including new cereals into the Nation food security program and distributing through the PDSs mechanism.
Challenges that need to address
Although, crop combination and crop diversification can increase agriculture productivity they also face certain implementation challenges.
Information asymmetry: Farmers do not have the necessary information about the right practice and method to use.
MSP regime: MSP prices determine the crop choices for the majority of farmers. Many prefer only those crops that give them assured high returns like rice and wheat.
Low Investment capacity: The majority of Indian farmers are small and marginal farmers, which restricts their ability to invest in farmland.
Procurement of Wheat and Rice (Paddy) by the government at MSP: Large scale procurement of the wheat and rice has encouraged the farmers to adopt monocropping – paddy in Kharif season and wheat in Rabi season.
Overcoming above mention challenges with the adoption of crop diversification and crop combination will have benefits beyond just increasing farm productivity. Crop diversification and crop combination will also help in achieving food security for India and work for the elimination of hunger. Achieving sustainability in agriculture is another goal that India can achieve through the widespread adoption of crop diversification and crop combination.
The goal of doubling farmers’ income become a reality with the adoption of these practices. These practices will ensure that India achieves Food security through greater food produces. At the same time challenge of lack of nutritious food can also be dealt with.