What is crop diversification?
Crop diversification refers to change in current cropping pattern and introducing newer ones into it. Let me take an example, if you cultivate rice-wheat for a number of years you will yet not count it into crop diversification since you are following the same cropping pattern. So alternation is a necessary component.
Now, let me introduce you to a term a used in above paragraph,
Crop rotation:- it is a practice of cultivating crops or using crop sequences on a particular agricultural field over a number of years.
Why crop diversification?
Let me make you aware with a fact:-
A scheme launched on May 9,2020 by Haryana MERA PANI- MERI VIRASAT stated that farmers switching to other alternate crops instead of paddy will be paid INR 7000 per acre incentive. Now why so?
It is because
It provides wider choice for a farmer to grow upon his same land.
It lessens the risk associated with mono-cropping like high highs and lows in the price of crop, disease attack, fertility loss, crop failure, demand change, supply change and so on.
Since it ensures change in crop pattern so mining of same nutrients is prevented and so is soil fertility conserved.
It prevents attack of same pests which further prevents use of harmful chemicals.
It prevents the need to use too many herbicides, pesticides, insecticides, etc.
Most importantly, it is very much required to ensure long run profits.
To achieve sustainable agriculture development, environmental improvement, employment generation, poverty alleviation.
What are the characteristics of crop introduced?
Make sure the crop you introduce should adapt well to your climatic, soil and geographical conditions.
It should be economical to you.
Try cultivating crop that uses less inputs especially less chemicals and fertilizers.
Try cultivating crop that gives you multiple benefits.
Illustrating an example I took earlier we can go for Rice- wheat- cesbania, now it will break attack cycle, add organic matter, fix nitrogen thus resulting in new and reliable cycle.
How can it be accomplished?
We can accomplish it in two ways
Add a new crop to existing pattern as stated in an example above.
Change any crop or cropping pattern cultivated currently. Here instead of introducing any new crop into existing practice we can simply shift to rice-maize or maize-mustard.
Horizontal and vertical diversification
Horizontal diversification in agriculture refers to cultivation of more than one crop especially on a small farmland so as to maximize crop intensity and avail related benefits while vertical diversification involves industrialization along with multiple cropping.
Due to vivid agro-climatic conditions, the free choice of crop selection is restrained.
Inadequate supply of improved cultivars.
Poor basic infrastructure.
Decreased infrastructure in Agriculture sector.
Crop diversification allows you to conserve natural resources. In a country of approximately 1 billion people where over 70% population lives in rural areas where main activity is agriculture it is necessary to ensure food security along with better wages. With the utilization of well planning and up to date technology better output can be availed with environmental protection being followed.