What is the Agricultural Diversification?
To develop the rural sector, we need to focus on alternative options related to agriculture. Diversification means having other alternative options. The need for agricultural diversification arises from the fact that there is greater risk in depending exclusively on farming for livelihood. Diversification towards new areas is necessary to reduce the risk from the agriculture sector and to provide productive sustainable livelihood options to rural people. Let’s understand this concept in detail.
Types of Agricultural Diversification
Agricultural diversification includes; diversification of crop production and diversification of production activity. Let’s discuss each of them.
Diversification of Crop Production
Diversification of crop production means changing the cropping pattern. It relates to change in method of cropping from subsistence farming to commercial farming (Cash crops). It means producing a diverse (different) variety of crops rather than one single crop, that is, shifting from a single cropping system to a multi-cropping system.
Diversification of Production Activity
Diversification of production activity means shifting from agriculture to other allied (related) activities. As the agriculture sector is overburdened, a major proportion of the increasing labor force needs to find alternate employment opportunities in other non-farm sectors.
The diversification of production activity or the other non-farm areas of employment includes;
- Animal husbandry
- Other alternate livelihood options
Let’s discuss each of them.
Animal Husbandry means a branch of agriculture which is related to rearing animals for their meat, eggs, milk, etc. In India, the farming community uses the mixed crop-livestock farming system, that is, people are involved in farming as well as in rearing animals. The most common species include; cattle, goats, and fowl.
Livestock production provides increased stability in income, food security, transport, fuel, and nutrition for the family without disrupting other food-producing activities. Today, the livestock sector alone provides alternate livelihood options to over 70 million small and marginal farmers including landless laborers. In the dairy sector, milk production in the country has increased by more than 8 times between 1951-2014. This happened because of the successful implementation of ‘Operation Flood’.
Operation Flood: One of the world’s largest rural development programs. Launched in 1970, Operation Flood has helped dairy farmers whereby all the farmers can pool their milk produced according to different grading based on quality, and the same is processed and marketed to urban centers through cooperatives. In this system, the farmers are assured of a fair price and income from the supply of milk to the urban market.
The fishing communities regard the water body as ‘Mother’ or ‘provider’, this is logical as well because they earn their livelihood from water body existence. The water bodies consist of sea, oceans, rivers, lakes, natural aquatic ponds, streams, etc., and these are the integral, and life-giving sources for the fishing community.
In India, after a progressive increase in budgetary allocations and the introduction of new technologies in fisheries and aquaculture, the development of fisheries has come a long way. Presently, fish production from inland sources contributes about 64% to the total fish production and the balance 36% comes from the marine sector (Sea and oceans). The fisheries and aquaculture production contributes around 1% to India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and over 5% to the agricultural GDP.
A large share of fish worker families is poor because of the increasing underemployment, low per capita earnings, absence of mobility of labor to other sectors, and a high rate of illiteracy.
Horticulture means growing fruits, vegetables, flowers, medicinal plants, spices, and plantation crops (Tea). These crops play a vital role in providing food and nutrition and also helps in providing employment opportunities. This sector contributes nearly one-third of the value of agricultural output and 6% of the GDP of India.
India has emerged as a world leader in producing a variety of fruits like mangoes, bananas, and coconuts. India is also the second-largest producer of fruits and vegetables. With horticulture, the economic conditions of many farmers have improved. In rural areas, flower harvesting, nursery maintenance are highly remunerative employment options for women.
Other alternate livelihood options like Information and Technology (IT)
The information and technology sector has revolutionized many sectors in the Indian economy. There is a strong belief that IT can play a critical role in achieving sustainable development and food security. The government can now predict areas of food insecurity and vulnerability using appropriate information and software tools. It will help in preventing the likelihood of an emergency.
The IT sector has a positive impact on the agricultural sector because it can provide information regarding emerging technologies. With the help of IT sector applications; we can find prices, weather, and soil conditions for growing different crops. The IT sector has a lot of potential for creating employment in rural areas.