What are the present challenges before crop diversification ? How do emerging technologies provide an opportunity for crop diversification? UPSC 2021, 15 Marks

Q14. फ़सल विविधता के समक्ष मौजूदा चुनौतियाँ क्या हैं ? उभरती प्रौद्योगिकियाँ फ़सल विविधता के लिए किस प्रकार अवसर प्रदान करती है ? (250 शब्दों में उत्तर दीजिए) 

Q14. What are the present challenges before crop diversification ? How do emerging technologies provide an opportunity for crop diversification? (Answer in 250 words)  15

Answer:

Crop diversification is the addition of new crops or cropping systems to a farm’s agricultural production, taking into account the various returns from value-added crops with complementing marketing prospects.

  • Cropping System: The crops, crop sequences, and management techniques utilized on a certain agricultural field over a number of years are referred to as a cropping system. Sequential cropping, mono-cropping, intercropping, relay cropping, mixed cropping, and alley cropping are the most common cropping systems in India. 

Many farmers adopt the mixed crop-livestock strategy to raise their living and earning levels.

  • Animal husbandry, often known as animal agriculture, is a branch of science concerned with the activity of humans raising, farming, and caring for farm animals (livestock) such as cattle, dogs, sheep, and horses for profit.
  • It refers to the raising of livestock and the selective breeding of animals. It is a sub-discipline of agriculture.

 

Challenges before crop diversification

 

  • The majority of the country’s farmed land is totally reliant on rain.
  • Suboptimal and excessive use of natural resources, such as land and water, has a severe influence on the environment and agriculture’s long-term viability.
  • Animal husbandry, after fossil fuels, is the second greatest source of human-made greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and a major contributor to deforestation, water and air pollution, and biodiversity loss.

 

  • Inadequate supply of better cultivar seeds and plants.
  • Land fragmentation makes modernization and mechanization of agriculture more difficult.
  • Basic infrastructure, such as rural roads, power, transportation, and communications, is in poor condition.
  • Inadequate post-harvest technologies and facilities for perishable horticulture products post-harvest handling.
  • Very weak agriculture industry.
  • Linkages between research, extension, and farmers are weak.
  • Inadequately trained human resources, as well as widespread and widespread illiteracy among farmers.
  • Most crop plants are affected by a variety of diseases and pests.
  • Horticultural crops have a poor database.
  • Investments in the agriculture industry have decreased over time.

 

Technologies help in providing opportunity for crop diversification

 

Soil and Water Sensors: These sensors can monitor moisture and nitrogen levels, and the farm can use this information instead of relying on a predetermined timetable to determine when to irrigate and fertilize. This not only saves money by making better use of resources, but it also helps the farm be more environmentally friendly by conserving water, controlling erosion, and lowering fertilizer levels in local rivers and lakes.

 

Weather Tracking: Farmers can use this technology to get enough prior notice of frost, hail, and other weather events so that they can take preparations to protect their crops or at the very least limit losses.

 

Satellite Imaging: Crop imagery allows a farmer to inspect crops as if he or she were standing there, but without having to do so. Even analysing photographs once a week can save a farm a significant amount of time and money. Additionally, this technology can be combined with crop, soil, and water sensors to provide farmers with notifications as well as suitable satellite imagery when danger thresholds are exceeded.

 

Vertical Farming: Vertical farming is a growing trend in agriculture. The process of producing food in vertically stacked layers is known as vertical farming, and it is a kind of urban agriculture. This has numerous advantages. The capacity to grow in urban surroundings, and hence having fresher meals available faster and at cheaper rates, is perhaps the most obvious. Vertical farming, on the other hand, will not be limited to urban areas as previously thought. Farmers from all over the world can use it to make better use of available land and cultivate crops that would otherwise be impossible to grow in those areas.

 

Mini-chromosomal Technology: A mini-chromosome is a small structure within a cell that contains relatively little genetic material but can retain a lot of information in layman’s terms. Agricultural geneticists can add dozens, if not hundreds, of features to a plant using mini-chromosomes. Drought tolerance and nitrogen utilisation are two examples of complicated characteristics. The most exciting aspect of mini-chromosomal technology is that the native chromosomes of a plant are not altered in any manner. As a result, regulatory approval and consumer acceptability are both expedited.

 

Way Forward

  • Crop diversification has the potential to quadruple farmers’ income and provide food security for the country, notwithstanding the problems that must be addressed.
  • As a result, the government must encourage crop diversification by purchasing crops other than wheat and rice at the MSP. This could also help conserve the subsurface water supply, which is running out.
  • Agricultural emissions can also be reduced by better livestock management, technology-assisted fertilizer application monitoring, minor field plan adjustments, and other more efficient agricultural approaches.

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