An Economic Analysis of Crop Diversification under Inorganic and Organic Farming in West Bengal Ranjan K. Biswas
There is a dramatic change in the earning, spending and saving pattern of the people of India in the post reform (economic) period that is post 1991. During this period, income generating mechanism in this country underwent massive changes. With a sustained economic growth, rising per capita income along with an ever increasing population, the dietary pattern in India is also changing very fast. The Indian food basket is diversifying in favour of high value food commodities like fruits, vegetables, dairy products, poultry products and fish products from staple food such as rice, wheat and coarse cereals. This raises a challenge to Indian agriculture. On the other hand the modern agriculture dominated by chemical and irrigation intensive farming system has not only raised productivity but simultaneously has also resulted in soil erosion, water contamination, pesticides poisoning, land degradation through water logging and soil salinity, depletion of bio-diversity, etc., forcing farmers to apply ever-increasing doses of fertilisers and to make water supply available on a continuous basis, in order to maintain the productivity levels. This again raises another challenge to Indian agriculture. It may not be wondering if we assume that organic farming system may generate such situation to address both the challenges mentioned above. This paper is concerned with an analysis of crop diversification under organic and inorganic farming in West Bengal. Crop diversification is different from the concept of multiple cropping or succession planting over the growing seasons. Moreover, it implies the use of environmental and human resources to grow a mix of crops with complementary marketing opportunities. Thus, it implies a shifting of resources from low value crops to high value crops such as fruits, vegetables, etc. The concept of crop diversification in globalized market of agricultural produce refers to increase the total crop productivity in terms of quality, quantity and monetary value under different specific agro-climatic situations across the world. There are two approaches to crop diversification in agriculture. First is horizontal diversification, which is the primary approach to crop diversification in production agriculture. The approach takes place through crop intensification by adding new high-value crops to existing cropping systems. Thus, the approach facilitates the improvement of overall productivity of a farm or farming economy of a region. The second approach is the vertical diversification. Under this approach, farmers and others add value to products through processing, regional branding, packaging, merchandising or other efforts to enhance the farm-product. The opportunities for crop diversification may vary depending on risks, opportunities and the feasibility of proposed changes within a socio-economic and agro-economic context. However, crop diversification through substitution of one crop or mixed cropping / inter-cropping may be a useful tool to mitigate problems associated with aberrant weather to some extent, especially in the arid and semi-arid drought-prone / dry land areas. Impact of crop diversification
Crop diversification is intended to practice of growing more than one crop (or enterprise) in any year to increase financial and biological stability of the farm. In the agricultural context, diversification can be regarded as the re-allocation of some of a farm's productive resources, such as land, capital, farm equipment and paid labour, into new activities. These can be new crops or livestock products, value-adding activities, provision of services to other farmers, etc. On the other hand, diversification of agriculture refers to the shift from the regional dominance of one crop to regional production of a number of crops, to meet ever increasing demand for cereals, pulses, oilseeds,...
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