Intensive discussions in this regard were witnessed among the participants and panelists of an event organised by CII, Conference on Crop Diversification.
Sanjeev Chopra, Joint Secretary and Mission Director, National Horticulture Mission and National Mission on Micro Irrigation Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, emphasized that crop diversification is the key to increasing higher nutrition level and conserving natural resources, as well as income augmentation and employment generation.
Responding to a question as to the kind of support required for extension services in districts, Chopra said, “The fact that nature itself is very diverse cannot be ignored. Extension services can be strengthened effectively through Zila Panchayats. Crop diversification will be successful only if the ownership is taken by Zila Panchayats.”
Ajay Jakhar, President, Bharat Krishak Samaj, mentioned, “Farmers need to be made more aware of alternate crops. They need to be assured of a market for their produce.”He also emphasized on the need for proper infrastructure for storage of agriculture produce.
Dr. MS Sandhu, Director - Agriculture, Department of Agriculture, Government of Punjab, said “Farmers will agree to crop diversification or change the cropping cycle only if they get better value compared to whatever they are getting presently.” He also mentioned that agro-processing units should be promoted, to obtain the full benefits of crop diversification.
RG Agarwal, Chairman, Dhanuka Agritech, recommended that the focus should shift from highly water-intensive crops to less water-intensive crops. “We should diversify to pulses and oilseeds. Techniques like systematic rice intensification, zero tillage, and integrated crop management should be promoted at all levels,” he said.
He stated that farmers need a practical solution for their crop-related problems. The government should announce crop holidays by giving proper compensation to farmers. This will improve soil health, the water table and the environment, overall.
Dr. Arvind Kapur, Chief Executive Officer, Rasi Seeds, urged policy makers to ensure that a strategic approach is adopted and meticulous planning is done, to achieve the target of crop diversification.