- Agriculture Diversification refers to either a change in cropping pattern or the farmers opting for other non-farming options like poultry farming, animal husbandry, etc.
- Agricultural diversification occurs when more species, plant varieties or animal breeds are added to a given farm or farming community, and this may include landscape diversification – different crops and cropping systems interspersed in space and time.
- This practice allows farmers to expand the production, which helps generate a higher level of income.
- Changing a cropping pattern implies the Diversification between food and non-food crops, conventional crops and horticulture, high value and low-value crops, etc.
- After the emergence of Golden Revolution (1991-2003), diversification has started to flourish rapidly across the country.
Types of Diversification :
There are mainly two types of agricultural diversification prominent in India. They are:
1. Horizontal Diversification :
This relates to multiple cropping or mix of crops instead of cultivating a single crop. Horizontal Diversification is especially useful for small farmers who hold a small piece of land. This allows them to earn more by escalating cropping intensity.
2. Vertical Diversification :
It refers to the incorporation of industrialisation along with multiple cropping. In this kind of Diversification, farmers take a further step and invest in activities like horticulture, agroforestry, livestock rearing, culture of aromatic plants, etc.
Major Features of Diversification :
- Introduction of multiple or mixed cropping systems.
- Shift from sole agricultural activities to other allied enterprises like fishery, forest products, poultry and other non-agriculture sectors.
By every means, Diversification in agricultural activities proves to be extremely beneficial for small farmers to increase their incomes.
Reasons for Agricultural Diversification :
The demand for high-value crops is increasing in India, and this paves the way for farmers to experiment with several cropping combinations. Apart from that, some other reasons make diversification an excellent choice for small and marginal farmers of India.
- Climate Change – Diversification reasonably controls the damage that can occur from the unfavorable weather condition. This process safeguards the farmers from the loss of crops in such a situation.
- Facilitate Several Employment Alternatives – Almost half of the employment of India revolves around the agriculture sector. Diversification creates new job opportunities for rural people other than traditional farming.
- Increases of Income – Opting for Diversification will undoubtedly increase the income and will let the farmers live a comfortable life.
- Exportation – Diversification, especially of non-farming products, makes a sizable export provision for its unique characteristics. India is now on the front line in exporting several agricultural products to multiple countries. This contributes to the overall growth of the economy.
Benefits of Diversification :
The benefits of employing Diversification are mentioned below.
- It helps in reducing risk factors as it ensures that the farmers do not lose all of their resources if the weather does not favor the crop production.
- Since multiple crops can be harvested from a small field, the production increases ten-fold, which ensures a substantial amount of income.
- Provide supplementary employment which is gainful for them.
- Enable them to earn higher level income, and
- Enable the rural people in overcoming poverty and other troubles.
- The importance of crop diversification lies in the fact that it effectively increases soil fertility and controls pest incidences.
- The boost in rural employment impacts the overall economy of the nation, as agriculture in India falls into the primary sector of the country.
Kinds of Non-farm Employment in Rural Areas :
The scope for employment in non-farm sectors in India is immense. Some of these are listed below.
1. Horticulture :
It is agriculture that deals with the plantations of the garden crop, especially that of vegetables, fruits, flowers, tuber crops, species, and ornamental or medicinal plants. In India, the horticulture sector contributes 6% of GDP and one-third of the agricultural output. India is a significant exporter of different fruits like bananas, mangoes, sugarcane, etc. across the globe. This sector employs almost 19% of the country’s workforce.
2. Livestock :
Most of the farmers use the mixed crop-livestock system to increase their standards of living and income. Animal husbandry is an agricultural branch that deals with the practices of farming, breeding, and the care of farm animals like cattle, dogs, sheep, and horses. It includes breeding, raising and nurturing the pastoral animals for food or raw material (like meat, milk, wool, skin, etc.) that can be used for commercial purposes. It provides livelihood to over 70 million rural farmers. Livestock is also used by farmers as an instrument in a farm for transport and carrying agricultural inputs, and animals like cows are used in the field for conventional plowing methods.
3. Fisheries :
Aquaculture, or fisheries, is an important part of food production that provides economic security to the millions of people besides livelihood support. It involves catching, sorting, selling and distributing fishes, prawns, oysters, crabs and other marine and fresh-water fishes. The coastal states like Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala are the key regions to supply fishes across the country and export to other countries. Today, fisheries contribute a total of 0.8% to the total GDP. Since mostly women are employed in this sector, the scope for women empowerment in the field is prominent.
4. Dairy :
In this industry, cattle like cows, goats, buffaloes, and sheep are reared for milk. The process comprises collecting, preserving and distributing the milk and its by-products like butter, raw-milk powder, ghee, etc.
Impact of Diversification :
Almost more than half of the population residing in India depends on agriculture which holds a very crucial place in the economy: Employment opportunities are provided by agriculture as well as non-agricultural activities. Agriculture plays a very crucial role in international trade as well as import and export.
- Increase in production of high-value crops.
- Better livelihood for farmers and instrumental for lowering the poverty level.
- Scopes for varied employment.
- Empowerment of women.
- Sustainable water usage.
Almost 43.21% of people are associated with Agriculture in India, making it one of the most vital service sectors of the nation. Also, the possibilities and scopes are unlimited in Agricultural Diversification in India using advanced farming apparatus.
In conclusion, diversification of agriculture is a multifaceted and critical strategy for ensuring food security, economic stability, and environmental sustainability. Diversification of agriculture is a dynamic and essential approach to addressing the challenges facing modern farming. It not only mitigates risks and stabilizes income but also fosters sustainability, resilience, and prosperity in agricultural communities. Embracing agricultural diversification is key to building a resilient and sustainable food system for the future.