Crop diversification refers to growing of more than one crop in the agricultural land such that it leads to shift in the cropping pattern at an all India level. Crop diversification can address hidden hunger, reduce inflation, promote sustainable practices and double farmers’ income.
Post Green Revolution, the Cropping pattern has come to be dominated by Rice and Wheat (38%) leading to monoculture farming. India’s food grain basket (300 MT) is dominated by Rice and Wheat (225 MT). More than one crop is grown on less than 50% of the area.
Challenges in Crop Diversification
- Input related factors:
- Fragmented landholdings (86%- Small and Marginal Farmers)
- Absence of Irrigation Facilities (53%-Rainfed Farming)
- Low Seed replacement rate
- Poor access to Credit
- Capital Intensive (Horticulture)
- Production related factors:
- Low yields of Pulses, Oilseeds etc.
- Low Cropping Intensity
- Marketing related factors
- Guaranteed procurement of Rice and Wheat under MSP.
- Restrictive APMC Regime
- Price volatility (Cobweb Phenomenon in Pulses)
- Restrictive export policies ( Minimum Export Price, Export Bans etc)
The emerging Technologies can help in promoting Crop Diversification through:
- Biotechnology: Development of high yielding and pest resistant crop varieties.
- ICT: Access to credit, agricultural machineries (CHC App), advisory services (KISAN Suvidha App), send price signals (AGMARKNET), reduce post-harvest losses and ensure higher market prices (e-NAM).
- Precision Farming: AI, remote sensing, GPS, Micro-irrigation etc. can enhance input use efficiency and ensure higher productivity (Example-AI Sowing App, Simply fresh)
- Accurate Weather forecasting based on Big Data and AI can reduce vulnerability to climate change.
- Smart Drones: Real time monitoring of crop health.
- Soil Sensors: Fine tune irrigation practices.
Thus, going forward, we need to focus on these emerging technologies to make agriculture more industrialized, usher in constructive disruption and promote crop diversification. (Dalwai Panel)