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Crop Diversification in Trans-Gangetic Plain

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July 19, 2023

Why in news?

States like Punjab and Haryana are unable to get out from the paddy-wheat cycle.

What is the status of agriculture in Punjab and Haryana?

  • Punjab is the food bowl of India. With 1.53% of the country’s area, it contributed 29% of rice and 38% of wheat in central food grains of the nation.
  • Punjab is the 3rd largest farming crop producing state in India. Currently 77 lakh acres of the agricultural land is under paddy cultivation in Punjab.

crop diversification 1 2023

  • Haryana is regarded as the bread basket and rice bowl of India, contributing 45% of rice and 65% of wheat to the central pool and more than 5% to total food production of the country.
  • Haryana is self-sufficient in food production and the second largest contributor to India's central pool of food grains.

Why paddy-wheat cycle is prevalent in Punjab and Haryana?

  • Green revolution- It was initiated in 1967 by M.S.Swaminathan to ensure food security in India. Both the states were successful.
  • Level of profits earned – It is noted that no other crops were profitable like paddy and wheat which are profit maximisers for farmer.

In 2018-19 Paddy was purchased for Rs.75, 887 per hectare whereas gram was purchased for Rs.9, 175 per hectare.

  • Stable income- Unlike other states and other crops, Punjab’s rice and wheat earn stable and reasonably rising incomes each year attributable to the government’s Minimum Support Price (MSP).
  • Lack of awareness- The small and marginal farmers have inadequate knowledge about cultivating other crops which makes them difficult to find buyers for selling it in better prices.
  • Availability of services - Availability of cheap power, water and easy access to information and services encourages farmers to undergo monoculture practice.

Why is crop diversification so significant?

  • Increased productivity - Crop diversification is a strategy applied to grow more diverse crops from shrinking land resources with an increase in productivity in the same arable land.
  • Groundwater conservation - Encouraging farmers to grow maize, bajra over water-guzzling crops like paddy will lead to groundwater conservation.
    • As per a recent UN report, in Punjab, the amount of groundwater withdrawn in certain regions frequently exceeds natural recharge rates.
  • Soil enrichment- Crop diversification increases the soil health in the nutrient deficient rice and wheat regions.
  • Increase resource use efficiency- Breaking the mono-cropping pattern by the introduction of diverse crops and cropping patterns helps in the resource-use efficiency.
  • Revival of traditional agriculture- This method ensures crop diversity which is more stable and pro-nature.
  • Reduction of pest & diseases- It helps effectively in pest and diseases management, reduces the quantity of weeds.
  • Reduction in crop failure - It allows farmers to employ biological cycles to conserve the resource base and reduce the risk of crop failures.
  • Increased income - It boosts the land use efficiency and enhance the net returns by reducing the input cost.
  • Food and nutrition security- It has sound capacity for achieving the goal of nutritional security by widening the food basket like cultivating millets, cereals etc.,

crop diversificaion 2 2023

What are the challenges in crop diversification?

  • Lack of awareness - Many farmers are unaware of the concept of crop diversification due to large scale illiteracy among them.
  • Lack of training - Only few scientists are working for alternative crop research and there is a lack of trained human resources in crop diversification.
  • Poor government support- Government encourages cultivation of rice and wheat as they would ensure food security.
  • Infrastructural deficit- Lack of proper storage facilities, Post-harvest management and few food processing industries decrease the value chain.
  • Low investment- Low investment in research and development actitvities to enhance crop diversification is another issue.
  • Monetary factor- The level of compensation associated with other crops is less compared with Paddy and wheat

In the Garhwal Himalayan region of India, Barahnaja is a crop diversification system for cultivating 12 crops in a year.

What steps were taken to promote crop diversification?

  • Johl Committee - It recommended for shifting at least 20% of the net cropped area from dominant crops like paddy and wheat in Punjab to other crops.
  • Ashok Dalwai Committee (Committee on doubling the farmers’ income) - It recommended shifting some areas from staple cereals to high-value produce so that it can lead to a sizable increase in the returns for farmers.
  • Crop Diversification Programme (2013-2014) - It was launched by the Central Government as a sub-component under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) to diversify 5% of the paddy cultivation area in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Punjab.
  • Punjab’s scheme - In the 2023 budget, the Punjab government allocated ₹1,000 crore for implementing a special scheme on crop diversification.
  • National Food Security Mission (NFSM) - It is launched in 2013 to supplement the state government to enhance the diversified production of crops such as pulses, coarse cereals, and nutri cereals.
  • Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH) - It is a scheme for holistic growth and development of Horticulture sector.
  • It covers vegetables, fruits, roots and tuber crops, aromatic plants, flowers, spices, bamboo, coconut, cashew and cocoa.

What lies ahead?

There is a need

    • To enhance the focus on research and development to work in alternative crop development like maize and soya bean.
    • To expand the investment in human resources.
  • To create federations like ‘Punjab Maize Federation’ or ‘Punjab Soya bean Federation’ to institutionalise the development and progress of different alternative crops.
  • To fill the gaps in  the value chain by improving  food processing industry, create favourable business environment like offer tax holidays etc.,

References

  1. Business Line| Punjab crop diversification
  2. Down to Earth| Punjab Haryana Paddy Wheat cycle
  3. Down to Earth| Exploit Asia’s Biodiversity to ensure food security
  4. PIB| schemes on crop diversification
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