Crop Diversification In India

According to the UN population projections, India, in all probability, will be the most populous country by 2027. More than 600 million people will living in urban areas by 2030. They need safe food from the hinterlands. Average agricultural land holding size is only 1.08 hectare, according to 2015-16 data).

Indian agriculture engages 42 per cent of the country’s workforce. Cultivable land and water for agriculture are limited and already under severe pressure. India needs an optimal agri food policy, and crop diversification should be an important part of that policy.

Since Green Revolution, India has been following agricultural practices which are an unsustainable and are causing irreparable damage to environment. Such practices have been unable to protect India’s natural resource. Water and water and soil are under stress.

Free electricity for pumping groundwater and highly subsidised fertilisers, especially urea, are damaging groundwater levels and its quality, in the Green Revolution states of Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh. This region needs to adopt crop diversification. Crop diversification policy should start with reducing the area under rice by almost half.

Crop Diversification Programme (CDP)

Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers Welfare (DAC&FW) is already implementing a Crop Diversification Programme (CDP) for replacing paddy crop with less water consuming alternative crops to save water and protect soil in the state of Punjab.

Crop Diversification Programme (CDP), a sub scheme of Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) is being implemented in Original Green Revolution States to divert the area of paddy crop to alternate crops and in tobacco growing states to encourage tobacco farmers to shift to alternate crops/cropping system.

Under CDP for replacing paddy crop, assistance is provided for four major interventions viz., alternate crop demonstrations, farm mechanization & value addition, site-specific activities &contingency for awareness, training, monitoring, etc.

However, for replacing tobacco crop, tobacco growing states have been given flexibility to take suitable activities/interventions for growing alternative agricultural/horticultural crops.

Government of India also provide flexibility to the states for state specific  needs/priorities under RKVY. The state can promote crop diversification under RKVY with the approval of State Level Sanctioning Committee (SLSC) headed by Chief Secretary of the State.

Increasing Farmers’ Income And Crop Diversity

The Government constituted an Inter-ministerial Committee in April, 2016 to examine issues relating to “Doubling of Farmers Income” and recommend strategies to achieve the same. The Committee submitted its Report to the Government in September, 2018 containing the strategy for doubling of farmers’ income by the year 2022.The DFI strategy as recommended by the Committee include seven sources of income growth viz.,

  1. improvement in crop productivity;
  2. improvement in livestock productivity;
  3. resource use efficiency or savings in the cost of production;
  4. increase in the cropping intensity;
  5. diversification towards high value crops;
  6. improvement in real prices received by farmers; and
  7. shift from farm to non-farm occupations. 

After acceptance of the DFI Committee recommendations, the Government has constituted an ‘Empowered Body’ to review and monitor the progress.

Agriculture being a State subject, the State Governments undertake implementation of programs/schemes for the development of the sector. Government of India supplements the efforts of the State Governments through various schemes/ programs. These schemes/ programs of the Government of India are meant for the welfare of farmers by increasing production, remunerative returns and income support to farmers.

RKVY scheme

The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers’ Welfare is implementing RKVY scheme in the States which provides flexibility to the States for preparing projects for the promotion of more beneficial crops. These projects are approved by the State Level Sanctioning Committee under the Chairmanship of the Chief Secretary of the State.

In addition DAC&FW provides support for the promotion of Commercial Crops like Sugarcane, Cotton, and Jute etc. under NFSM scheme and Horticulture Crops under MIDH to enhance the income of the farmers. Besides a crop diversification programme, as a sub-scheme of RKVY, is being implemented in the States of Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh to replace Paddy with alternative crops like Oil Seeds, Pulses, Cotton and Maize etc.

The Government has taken following measures to promote the farming of dates in drought prone area and dry weather area:

  • Under the Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture, assistance is provided for establishment of Tissue Culture Lab @ 40% of cost to private sector and 100% of total cost to public sector (cost norms Rs.250.00 lakh/unit) for multiplication of Tissue Culture Plant of Date palm.
  • Under the Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture, assistance is provided for establishment of Tissue Culture Lab @ 40% of cost to private sector and 100% of total cost to public sector (cost norms Rs.250.00 lakh/unit) for multiplication of Tissue Culture Plant of Date palm.
  • Under the Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture, assistance is provided for establishment of Tissue Culture Lab @ 40% of cost to private sector and 100% of total cost to public sector (cost norms Rs.250.00 lakh/unit) for multiplication of Tissue Culture Plant of Date palm.

This information was given in a written reply by the Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Shri Narendra Singh Tomar in Lok Sabha yesterday.

Beneficial Cropping Patterns

The cropping pattern is dependent on various factors viz. agro-climatic conditions of the region, availability of resources, market forces, socio-economic conditions of the farmers, demand and supply of agricultural produce etc.

Accordingly, Government of India has been emphasizing promotion of various crops/cropping system viz. rice, wheat, pulses, coarse cereals, nutri cereals& commercial crops under National Food Security Mission (NFSM), oilseeds under NFSM-Oilseeds, horticultural crops under Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH).

The new technologies on crops/cropping pattern are demonstrated at the farmers’ field through State Department of Agriculture/ Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)/State Agricultural Universities (SAUs)/Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) etc. and are creating awareness among farmers to choose appropriate crops/cropping system.

ICAR-Indian Institute of Farming Systems Research, Modipuram is undertaking extensive research (on-station research) and technology validation through farmers’ participatory research (on-farm research) on crop diversification under the aegis of AICRP-Integrated Farming Systems (AICRP-IFS) in 25 States/Union Territory with the participation of 34 State Agricultural Universities and 1 Central University. 

A study on “Identification of cropping system module for different farming system” at 36 locations through AICRP on Integrated Farming Systemshas been conducted in 31 districts in 20 states.

The Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare has organized seven Agro Climatic Zonal Conferences with the State Governments, ICAR, Agricultural Universities, KVKs during the month of September 2020 for better planning of cropping systems.

This information was given in a written reply by the Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Shri Narendra Singh Tomar in Rajya Sabha on September 18, 2020.

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