The diversification of agriculture has become one of the essential factors determining the growth of an economy. It involves either changing the crop pattern or opting for other non-farming businesses such as animal husbandry, poultry farming, etc. It is a stage where agriculture is commercialized by moving on from traditional farming products to high-quality products. For the diversification to be successful, the process must be supported by technological changes, consumer demand, government policies, and other infrastructural developments in transport, storage, and irrigation.
Types of Agricultural Diversification
Mainly, there are two types of agricultural diversification strategies followed in India:
1. Horizontal Diversification
Under this method, farmers cultivate multiple crops, or a mix of crops, instead of a single crop. This method is beneficial for farmers who own small pieces of land, as it helps them earn more by cultivating various plants.
2. Vertical Diversification
Under this method, farmers take one step further to incorporate industrialization into their farming operations. It involves investing in activities such as livestock breeding, horticulture, and agroforestry.
Features of Agricultural Diversification and the Use of Agricultural Equipment
- Introduction of Multiple or mixed crop patterns.
- Shifting from traditional agricultural activities to allied activities such as poultry, fishery, and other non-agricultural sectors.
Whatever choice of the industry is selected to diversify in, latest and advanced agricultural implements, and multi-purpose tractors such as John Deere tractor, Sonalika tractor, Mahindra tractor, Eicher tractor, and many more, continue to add value to operations. It allows farmers to earn additional income and improve their standard of living.
Reasons for Agricultural Diversification
The demand for high-value crops paves the way for farmers in India to experiment with several crop combinations. Besides, several other reasons make agricultural diversification an excellent choice for farmers. These reasons include
- Climate Change
Agricultural diversification helps in controlling the damages that can result due to unfavourable weather conditions. Agricultural diversification helps protect farmers against losses arising because of such situations.
- Employment Opportunities
The agricultural sector employs more than 50% of India’s population. Diversifying agricultural activities helps create more employment opportunities in industries other than traditional farming.
- Increases Income
Agricultural diversification leads to an increase in farmers’ income, thereby helping them lead a better social life.
- Export Opportunities
India is a significant exporter of agricultural and related products. Agricultural diversification, especially in products not related to farming, provides vast opportunities in the field of exports. It helps contribute to the overall growth of the Indian economy.
Benefits of Agricultural Diversification
- Agricultural diversification helps in reducing farmers’ risk. It ensures they do not lose their money and other resources if the weather conditions adversely affect their crops.
- Since agricultural diversification allows farmers to cultivate multiple crops in a small area, their production increases. It enables farmers to earn a substantial amount of money to lead a better life.
- The agricultural sector in India is already overcrowded and stagnated. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to generate employment opportunities in allied industries.
- Agricultural diversification helps in controlling pest problems and increasing soil fertility.
- The increase in rural employment in allied industries provides a significant thrust to India’s economic growth.
- Consumers today are increasingly devoting less and less time to prepare food. Instead, they prefer ready-to-eat meals, such as pre-cut salads. It provides farmers with an excellent opportunity to diversify in allied activities to help them cater to changing consumer behaviour.
- A change in government policies that control how farmers can associate themselves with markets has helped open many new diversification opportunities. For example, the policy decision to end the monopoly of state-regulated markets has made it possible for farmers in India to get in direct contact with buyers.
Non-Agricultural Employment Opportunities in India
There is an immense scope of employment in non-agricultural sectors in India. Some of the significant non-farm sectors with a huge employment potential include:
It involves catching, selling, and distributing fishes, crabs, oysters, prawns, and other fish varieties. It is a crucial part of India’s food production system and provides livelihood to millions of people. In India, 64% of the fish sourced is from inland sources such as rivers, and 36% from marine sources such as seas and oceans. The fisheries sector contributes roughly 0.8% to India’s total GDP.
Horticulture refers to the cultivation or plantation or garden crops such as fruits, vegetables, flowers, and medicinal plants. India is the leading exporter of food products such as bananas, mangoes, sugarcane, etc. In India, the sector employs approximately 19% of the total workforce and contributes roughly 6% to India’s GDP.
The livestock sector involves the commercial raising, breeding, and nurturing of pastoral animals for products such as wool, milk, skin, meat, etc. Approximately 70% of small and medium farmers, rural women, and labour depend on the livestock sector for their livelihood. Livestock also acts as a form of transport for farmers and helps them transport raw materials and finished products to and from the market to their farms. Farm animals such as cows have also been traditionally used in executing ploughing operations.
Under the dairy industry, farm cattle like goats, sheep, buffaloes, and cows are bred and raised for products such as milk and several by-products of milk such as butter, ghee, milk powder, etc.
Impacts of Agricultural Diversification
Agricultural diversification imparts a lot of impact on the Indian economy. Some of these impacts include:
- Agricultural diversification helps to increase the production of high-value crops.
- It ensures a better livelihood for farmers by making them prosperous and reducing their poverty.
- Agricultural diversification provides a massive scope of generating employment in allied sectors.
- It helps to make women self-sufficient, thereby contributing towards women empowerment.
- It contributes to using a scarce resource such as water judiciously.
As discussed earlier, more than 50% of India’s population is dependent on the agricultural sector for their livelihood. The fact that so many people depend on it makes agriculture one of the most crucial sectors of the Indian economy. However, with such a large population already present in the Indian agricultural sector, it is slowly but surely drifting towards stagnation. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to visualize the future and embrace the concept of agricultural diversification as its scope and possibilities are endless.
This article includes:
- The meaning & types of agricultural diversification strategies in India.
- Features of Agricultural diversification.
- The Reasons for Agricultural diversification.
- The Benefits of Agricultural diversification
- The Impacts of Agricultural diversification.