Crop Diversification - 2 Main Reasons

Crop Diversification is the addition of new crops or cropping systems to agricultural production on a particular farm taking into account the different returns from value-added crops with complimentary marketing opportunities.

In the successive years of the green revolution, food security was fulfilled at the national level due to the stupendous efforts of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). This article gives information behind the 2 mains reasons for implementing crop diversification and the changes in area coverage of different crops spread over 2 decades.

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Crop Diversification

The agricultural scientists put emphasis on the implementation of Crop Diversification. This was advocated to the farmers for two main reasons.

First Reason

The prices of food grains like rice and wheat were not encouraging and farmers ended up with very low net returns even during years of bumper production. By concentrating on other crops like cotton, chilli and sunflower the farmers were encouraged to earn higher profits.

Second Reason

The productivity of rice and wheat was poor in some regions like uplands and dry lands due to high moisture stress sensitivity of these crops. Hence by encouraging farmers to diversify to oil seeds and pulse crops and high value medicinal plants which require less quantity of irrigation compared to that of field crops, they would certainly get higher profits.

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Temporal Change – Crop Area Coverage

The trend of temporal change in area share of the crops in India revealed that the area under cereals (expressed in percentage of gross cropped area) has been found to be declined from 56.53 in 1991 to 51.74 in 2008 (Table 1).

All India temporal change (5) in the Area Share of Main Crop and Crop Groups, 1991 to 2008

Area (million hectares)
Crop TE 1991 TE 2008
Cereals 103.68 99.01
Pulses 23.74 22.71
Oil Seeds 24.2 26.97
Fruits 3.09 5.54
Vegetables 5.17 7.48
Spices 2.26 2.47
Gross Cropped Area 183.42 191.36

Similarly, the area under pulses has also come down from 23.74 in 1991 to 22.77 in 2008 making the area under food grains decline. The area under oil seeds during the same time period has enhanced from 24.2 million hectares to 26.97 million hectares. An increase in proportion of area under fruits, vegetables and spices was also witnessed during the same period.

The need of the hour is to prioritize the preferential crops that suit well under each agro-climatic region of the country so that higher net returns can be achieved by the farming community through crop diversification. The options for combining crop component with animal component such as integrated rice-fish farming may be explored which would result in additional net returns to the farmers without affecting the food security.

Frequently Asked Questions about Crop Diversification

Why is Crop Diversification important?

Crop diversity is fundamental to agricultural growth. Crop diversity enables farmers and plant breeders to develop higher yielding, more productive varieties that have the improved quality characteristics required by farmers and desired by consumers.

How economically and ecologically is crop diversification beneficial?

Diversified farms are usually more economically and ecologically resilient. By growing a variety of crops, farmers are at economic risk and are less susceptible to the drastic price fluctuations associated with changes in supply and demand. There are two approaches to crop diversification in agriculture..

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