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Divided into three parts - Rationale and Extent of Agricultural Diversification, Nature and Problems of Agricultural Diversification, and Food and Livelihood Security through Agricultural Diversification, this edited book examines various aspects of agricultural diversification in Eastern India.

In recent years, Indian agriculture has been diversifying from cereals to high-value crops and livestock products in accordance with the changing consumption patterns. As such, it faces the challenges of a new economic regime, besides the usual problems of rising population, unemployment and poverty, declining investments in the agriculture sector and degradation of natural resources. These issues are discussed in the book in light of the significant transformation in the economic structure of the Indian economy from agriculture to non-agriculture (industry and services) and changing cropping pattern from cereals to non-cereals, in accordance with the changing consumption pattern. The book would be of interest to teachers, researchers, policymakers, students and general readers having an interest in agricultural development in India.



1. Introduction

Diversification of agriculture is considered as an important strategy to overcome the challenges faced by many developing countries. Diversification of agriculture means developing a larger-number crop mix or enterprise mix in favour of high-value and more remunerative enterprises. It may be of different forms such as supplementing farm incomes with non-farm incomes, increasing the number of crops grown and types of livestock reared, or use of resources in diverse farm enterprises. The prominent arguments in favour of diversification of agriculture are to increase farm income, generate additional employment, stabilize farm income overtime, and to conserve natural resources. This chapter introduces the issues involved in the diversification of agriculture in eastern India, and summarises the major findings of the studies included in this edited volume.
Madhusudan Ghosh, Debashis Sarkar, Bidhan Chandra Roy

Rationale and Extent of Agricultural Diversification


2. Green Revolution in Eastern India

This chapter has discussed the role of various stakeholders in the overall agricultural growth strategy in the eastern region. It is argued that the eastern India is relatively backward in terms of crop diversification and crop productivity. Non-viability of the small farms, inadequacies in the available inputs, extension services, marketing systems and infrastructure have been found to be the primary reasons behind the continuing low productivity and poverty syndrome and enhanced regional disparities in this region. Changes in institutional arrangements in the land tenure system such as land leasing, contract farming and corporate farming could make small farms economically viable. Further, by involving the corporate sector in agri-business and value chain innovations, meaningful employment opportunities could be generated for educated youth. With the State Governments as facilitators in eastern India, the small and marginal farmers, the corporate sector and all financial institutions can work together towards mutual prosperity, besides ensuring food security. By forging strategic alliances with key stakeholders, the corporate sector can provide a sound business framework, which could be a panacea for the ills of the agriculture sector in general and the small and marginal farmers in eastern India, in particular. Recognising the gap between available potentials and actual growth achieved in agriculture in the eastern region, the action plan suggested here to integrate small and marginal farmers, quality inputs supply, output markets and supply chains could be useful in the utilization of fund created for bringing Green Revolution in eastern India.
K. G. Karmakar, B. B. Sahoo

3. Diversified Sustainable Agriculture in Eastern India

This chapter has stressed that farmers’ mind set needs to be changed towards the knowledge-based thinking like that of farmers of agro rich states of the country. The problems of marginal and small-scale farmers of the eastern region can be addressed through the state initiatives supporting contract farming. Diversification of agriculture in eastern zone was towards non-cereal products and to some extent towards livestock. Presently demand for protein based products like meat, egg, milk and fish as well as fruits and vegetables has increased substantially with rise in income, assisted by demographic dividend and policy initiatives. This has offered huge opportunity to the unexplored fertile agricultural area of eastern zone to sustain diversified agricultural activities. The need of the hour is the young farmers’ mind set towards application of modern agro facilities like contract farming, trading in futures and other facilities from finance and insurance through collaborative efforts.
Tapas Kumar Chakrabarty

4. Crop Diversification: An Exploratory Analysis

Discussing various dimensions of crop diversification in India, this chapter argues that crop diversification (horizontal and vertical) is one of the best options to increase farm income leading to food, nutrition and ecological security as well as poverty alleviation. Therefore, greater attention should be paid to crop diversification by the government. Several steps can be taken to reduce risks and improve marketing facilities through improved roads and communications, construction of wholesale markets, etc. The access of farmers, private traders and exporters to credit also needs to be improved. Efforts should be made to identify high specialty crops, new crops, off-season varieties and production systems to open up new opportunities for farmers. The promotion of multipurpose species would also be useful for diversification of agro-processing on small-scale at local and national level for productivity enhancement and expanded employment opportunities. Again, there is a need for improved seed and other planting materials for effective crop diversification. One major concern is the high post-harvest losses of crop produce, particularly in horticultural crops. The government should take initiatives to minimize such losses. The private sector can play a major role in the development of modern agro-enterprises to infuse capital and technology into diversified cropping systems for effective commercialization for long-term sustainability. Since crop diversification is an important element of poverty alleviation, income generation, equity and natural resource conservation, a well-designed mechanism has to be developed through the participation of the local governments. There is also a need for development of an information database on crop diversification for policy makers, farmers, consumers, and other stakeholders.
G. D. Banerjee, Sarda Banerjee

5. Trend and Pattern of Crop Diversification in Odisha

Based on secondary data, this chapter examines the trend and pattern of crop diversification at the state and regional levels. In view of the predominance of small landholdings in the state, the study further examines the association of small holders in the cultivation of high value crops (HVCs). It also outlines the recent policy initiatives taken up by the state government towards crop diversification. The findings of the study reveal a negative growth rate in the area under the cultivation of paddy, fibres and tobacco, and a positive growth rate in acreage under pulses, oilseeds, spices, vegetables, sugarcane and fruits at the state level during 2001-02 to 2009-10. Particularly, the trend growth rate in area under sugarcane and pulses was quite impressive during the period. At the regional level, the agro-climatically better-off region (coastal plain) does not show better performance in adaptation to commercial and high value crops. The growth in acreages under oilseeds, fibres, fruits, vegetables and sugarcane in this region lags behind other regions. The concentration of small holders is found to be higher in coastal plain as compared to other regions. The participation of small holders with varying degree across regions in crop diversification particularly with regard to fruits and vegetables is noteworthy. The recent policy initiatives taken by state government in raising crop diversity in the state is also noteworthy. However, these policies need to be implemented effectively by improving rural infrastructures and raising institutional support to small farmers who are found playing positive role in diversification process.
R. K. Panda

6. Pattern of Agricultural Diversification in Odisha

This chapter analyses the trends and patterns of agricultural diversification in Odisha. It is observed that there has been a significant change in the cropping pattern in the past few decades in the country as a whole as well in Odisha. The share of cereals in gross cropped area (GCA) was highest amongst other crops during 1970-71 to 2007-08. Moreover, the area devoted to food grains (cereals and pulses) was much higher in both the state and all India levels. However, diversification away from food grains was more prominent in Odisha in comparison to all India. In the state, diversification was found to be most remarkable towards pulses and oilseeds, though after 2000, the area under oilseeds has declined. There have been remarkable changes in the relative shares of various crops (with significant contribution of fruits and vegetables) in the gross value of crop output from agriculture in the past few decades. The uncertainty in the crop production sector has warranted special policy interventions for strengthening the ailing livestock sector, which can provide supplementary incomes to the farmers and can contribute to the gross state domestic product significantly.
H. N. Atibudhi

7. A Study on the Extent of Crop Diversification in West Bengal

This chapter reveals that the agricultural sector in West Bengal has been gradually undergoing diversification in favour of high valued food crops like potato, oilseeds, fruits and vegetables. However, the pace of diversification has not been as fast as needed for speeding up of growth in agriculture, and the pattern of diversification in the state is due to expansion effect.
S. Maji, A. Jha Chakraborty, B. K. Bera, A. K. Nandi

8. A Study of Diversification of Katarni to HYV Paddy in Bihar

Based on primary data collected from ‘Katarni’ paddy growing cultivators from Bhagalpur and Banka districts of Bihar, this chapter analyses the trend and causes of diversification within crop (from ‘Katarni Paddy’ to HYV paddy) in Bihar. It is observed that even though Katarni paddy is unique and marvelous for its taste and flavour, uncomparable with any other paddy in the world, has been facing the threat of extinction. Since 1991-92, the area under Katarni paddy has started declining significantly mainly due to the constraints/reasons like (i) unchecked excavation of sand from the river Chandan, leading to declining water retention capacity of the river and escalation in irrigation cost; (ii) erosion of genetic purity of Katarni paddy; (iii) higher productivity of other varieties of HYV paddy; (iv) lower productivity of Katarni paddy and in proportion to that, lower prices paid to the actual growers; and (v) declining domestic and global demand owing to selling of adulterated Katarni paddy by local traders/middlemen. The study has suggested suitable measures to increase area under this aromatic rice.
Basant Kumar Jha, Rajiv Kumar Sinha

Nature and Problems of Agricultural Diversification


9. Role of Dairying in Diversification of Indian Agriculture

This chapter argues that diversification of agriculture is imperative to ensure, among others, nutritional security and smooth flow of rural income stream. While value of agriculture output is highly volatile, value of livestock output in general and value of milk output in particular is steady and stable. Dairy sector is one of the main drivers of growth of Indian agriculture. The importance of this sector cannot be over-emphasised in the context of diversification of agriculture. Demand-led white revolution made rapid strides in majority of Indian states but largely by-passed eastern region. While most of the states registered shift in the composition of livestock in favour of dairy stock, the eastern states did not witness perceptible shift in its composition. The study brings to the fore that preponderance of low yielding indigenous cattle in dairy herd has adversely influenced the participation of this region in white revolution. Inadequate infrastructure has also caused untold damage to the growth of dairy sector and consequently non-diversification of agriculture. However, limited yet satisfactory induction of crossbreeding programme of cattle in the region indicates huge growth potential for dairy development. It does without saying that upgradation of indigenous cattle if not the exotic crossbreeding programme in a big way will place dairy sector on fast growth trajectory and go a long way in diversification on agriculture in the region.
C. L. Dadhich

10. Crop Diversification Through Oilseeds in Eastern India

This chapter makes a critical review on various dimensions of diversification in cropping systems through oilseeds in eastern India and analyses the advantage of crop diversification with oilseeds in marginal ecosystems to make the cropping enterprise as a profitable venture avoiding risks. It is argued that Indian oilseeds sector, the fourth largest in the world after USA, China and Brazil, is at crossroads with a wide gap between country’s oilseeds production and escalating demand and mounting imports of vegetable oils causing a drain on the foreign exchange reserves. Hence, it is of immediate necessity to bridge the gap between demand and supply of oilseeds in the country, especially in the eastern states. Crop diversification through suitable oilseeds with appropriate management practices in areas, where cereal-dominating production system is in vogue, may be an effective option for mitigating or minimizing the present-day problems, besides making a sustainable improvement in oilseeds production.
M. K. Bhowmick, B. Duary, P. K. Biswas

11. Crop Diversification Through Pulses in the Northeastern Plain Zone of India

This chapter has shown that the rice-based cropping systems have threatened agricultural sustainability by causing imbalance in soil nutrient and water availability, frequent outbreak of insect pests, disease epidemics, etc. Thus, in the fragile ecosystem and poor farm resource base, crop diversification on rice-based cropping systems is of utmost importance with a view to maintain a balance between crop intensification and sustainability of the production system. Declining factor productivity of cereal-based intensive cropping systems warrants diversification of cereals with pulses in India, particularly in the northeastern plain zone (NEPZ). Growing of rabi pulses in lowland rice-fallows of this zone holds a great promise to enhance pulse production without the risks of high input agriculture.
P. K. Biswas, M. K. Bhowmick

12. Crop Diversification in West Bengal: Nature and Constraints

Based on household survey conducted in two districts of West Bengal, one representing a more diversified agriculture (Burdwan) and the other less diversified one (Purulia), this study examines the nature and constraints to crop diversification among different livelihood groups. The findings of the study show that the level of crop diversification varies across the regions and different livelihood groups. On an average, while the households in Burdwan district grow more than three crops, with the highest number of crops being grown by the cultivator group followed by the salaried group, the households in Purulia district grow at most two crops, with as high as 41 per cent of sample households growing only one crop per annum. The low level of crop diversification in Purulia was found to be due to distress induced by the agro-climatic factors, particularly due to erratic rainfall pattern and lack of any kind of irrigation facilities in the study area. The principal constraints faced by the rural households are of various kinds. While most of them are socio-economic in nature, some constraints are of agro-ecological nature, and there are few, which are technical or institutional in nature like non-availability of quality seeds resistant to extreme climates, and pests and diseases, etc. Spatial variation leads to cross sectional heterogeneity thereby influencing diversification pattern. Property rights in productive assets such as land and livestock, labour availability, and access to credit differs across livelihood groups. Therefore, though all the livelihood groups faces these constraints because of poor asset base, the severity of the constraints are more for the landless labourer groups and least for the resource-rich salaried class. High volatility in prices, absence of market and lack of access to technical knowhow are the main constraints faced by the cultivators group. A large proportion of small and marginal farmers gain livelihoods through production on small pieces of land. For these households, timely availability or access to credit and improved methods of production are quite critical for their livelihood.
Dilruba Khatun, Bidhan Chandra Roy

13. Problems of Crop Diversification in West Bengal

This chapter argues that crop diversification helps to maximize the utilization of scarce land resource, increase productivity, and reduce risk in agriculture. In West Bengal, there is a scope for increasing crop diversity with increased cultivation of boro rice, potato, different oilseeds, pulses and horticultural crops. However, even though cropping diversity can reduce several limitations and risks involved in traditional methods of agriculture, it cannot eliminate the risk element completely. Agricultural productivity in West Bengal largely suffers due to small farm size. Changes in cropping pattern intensify the need for stronger financial institutions. Owing to the prevalence of small and marginal farmers in West Bengal, over-dependence on credit has become a problem for the state. In order to implement and sustain the benefits from crop diversification technological and institutional supports are required. Agricultural insurance could be an important tool toward effective crop diversification programme. Agricultural insurance provides coverage to the farmers for any loss occurring in agriculture. The scheme extends various kinds of insurance apart from different yield-based crop insurance schemes that protects farmers in case of crop failure due to natural hazards, man-made hazards, perils and risks due to technological changes and change in economic policies pursued by the Government. Agricultural insurance could also help the farmers to take risk involved with technological changes and change in cropping pattern protecting the probable financial risks. The study reveals that insurance in agriculture is less explored area and there is further scope in the state of West Bengal in its effort toward reducing the risks associated with crop diversification. It has stressed to explore the methods through which the benefits could reach to the needy ones.
Debisree Banerjee, Uttam Kumar Bhattacharya

14. Factors Influencing the Extent of Diversification in West Bengal

Based on a micro-survey in some agro-economic regions in West Bengal, this chapter examines the conditions under which there has been greater diversification of cropping pattern, and the factors influencing the farmers’ decision regarding diversification. The study finds that the areas, endowed with assured water supply at cheap rates (mostly canal irrigation), concentrate more on production of cereals and traditional crops showing lower extent of crop diversification. However, in the areas, where farmers have to depend on private sources of water at high cost due to non-availability of publicly supplied irrigation system, they diversify away from water-intensive cereals and other traditional crops towards various other high value crops showing greater degree of diversification. Diversification in cropping pattern has occurred more in those cases, where farm households are in a position to provide more family labour for cultivation.
Debajit Roy

15. Causes of Agricultural Diversification in Bihar and Jharkhand

This chapter argues that agricultural diversification in India has been towards a continuous increase in the share of allied activities and decline in the share of crop sector since the late sixties. Within crop sector, the trend of diversifications has, however, been changing periodically. In spite of these periodic shifts in crop acreage, proportionate area under fine cereals had been increasing over a long period. Though in some of the states, this trend continues, the recent trend in crop diversification shows decline in percent area under fine cereals and increase in percent area under non-foodgrain crops. Empirical evidence shows that crop diversification in Bihar has been towards pulses, fibre crops, oilseeds, cereals and sugarcane during the period from 2000–01 to 2008–09. During the same period, farmers in Jharkhand have been diversifying towards oilseeds, pulses, maize and wheat. Based on these findings, this study has suggested that in order to generate additional income by enhancing employment opportunities in rural areas on sustainable basis, the farmers need to be encouraged to undertake those non-food crops, which have greater potentiality of value-addition.
Rajiv Kumar Sinha

16. Policy Intervention in West Bengal Agriculture: Role of Diversification

This chapter argues that besides producing food grains, the Eastern India has great potential to produce several high value commodities like horticulture, livestock and fisheries to accelerate the growth of agricultural output. However, one of the key impediments to fostering the agricultural growth in this region is the small and marginal production unit of the majority of the farmers. The small scale of production unit can produce these high value commodities with high to moderate production efficiency, but poor marketing efficiency. Farming units are usually confronted with many unpredictable uncertainties ranging from climatic vagaries to market price fluctuations. The degree of uncertainty is greater for the small and marginal landholders, where the farmers do not have access to basic information on various risks including loss of assets and income. Keeping in view of the opportunities and prospects of agricultural growth, the paper focuses on the ways and means of agricultural development in West Bengal, which may help to accelerate the rural income and household level food and nutritional security. Farming in West Bengal is individual-driven and unorganized, with the average size of holding being 0.82 ha, much lower than the national average of 1.33 ha. Therefore, individual farmers, with very small marketable surplus of produce, have to pay market price for all farm inputs and other basic utilities and consumable items. There is, therefore, a need to organize a vastly unorganized farming community in such a way as to help them to gain from the market economy. Smallholders are competitive in high value agricultural activities, because of the availability of family labour and their ability to compete in local markets. However, as production and marketing systems evolve, support to smallholders to provide efficient input services, links to output markets and risk mitigation measures will be important, if they are to provide higher value products. Innovative public support and links to the private sector will be required for the poor to adapt and benefit from the emerging systems.
Shiv Raj Singh, Subhasis Mandal, K. K. Datta, Uttam Bhattacharya

Food and Livelihood Security through Agricultural Diversification


17. Diversification and Food Security in the North Eastern States of India

This chapter examines the impact of crop and agricultural farm diversification on food security in northeastern (NE) states of India. Using various indices of diversification to state level data for the period from 2001-02 to 2011-12, it evaluates crop and agricultural farm diversification across the states. In general, the magnitude of crop diversification was found to have declined across the states, but agricultural farm diversification has increased due to impressive growth in livestock, fisheries, and fruits and vegetables. It was observed that except fruits and vegetables, all other food grains were in deficit in the states measured in terms of their per capita availability per day. The gap between requirement and availability was higher in Assam and Sikkim. In terms of nutrients, protein was in surplus in all the states of NE India, while energy in terms of kilocalories was in deficit in the states due to low productivity of food grains. The study has indicated that the NE states need to increase productivity of food grains and oilseeds to reduce the food import bill of the region.
K. C. Talukdar, Sima Das, Udeshna Talukdar

18. Impact of Improved Agro-Techniques Towards Food and Livelihood Security

This chapter evaluates the impact of a sub-project on ‘Sustainable Rural Livelihood Security’ (SRLS) that has been in progress since 2008 in four districts of West Bengal (viz. Uttar Dinajpur, Dakshin Dinajpur, Malda and Murshidabad) under National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP). The research process began with development of knowledge-management strategy and progressed further with technology intermediation and simultaneous ownership building activities. Interventions on new crop sequencing, resource conserving technologies and varietal replacement have resulted in 23.25% increase in cropping intensity from baseline value of 142.20%. As cumulative effect of integration of improved crop husbandry, new crop sequencing and replacement of varieties, impressive increase in productivity has been achieved for all major cereals (49.63%), oilseeds (43.02%), pulses (58.44%) and potato (23.85%) to effectively address food insecurity issue of around 64.26% local below poverty line (BPL) families.
S. C. Sarker, P. S. Patra, G. Mula, B. Paramanik

19. Floriculture in West Bengal in Augmenting Income and Export

This study explores the possibilities of value addition of multi-utilities floricultural products in eastern India in general and West Bengal in particular. West Bengal has a unique and varied agro-climate condition, which facilitates to raise temperate to humid and sub-tropical flowers. It is an eco-friendly crop with high potential of income and employment generation for small and marginal producers. The study argues that marketing of perishable crop like flowers always requires special arrangement. However, as the value chains of cut and loose flowers are mostly unorganized, efforts should be made to increase buyers’ awareness and to improve infrastructural facilities.
T. N. Roy, K. K. Das, D. Rai

20. Role of Muga Culture in Diversification Strategy

This chapter argues for diversification of agriculture towards non-food grain and high value commodities, because of its immense potential for income augmentation, employment generation, poverty alleviation and export promotion. Muga silk, one of the three non-mulberry silks (Muga, Eri, Tasar), produced by the silkworm Antherea assamensis, is unique for its golden yellow colour. This enterprise has experienced growing popularity because of its potential for providing high economic return and employment throughout the year.
K. K. Das, T. N. Roy, B. Das


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