Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), USA has issued a paper titled “Integrated farming with intercropping increases food production while reducing environmental footprint” which talks about Indian agricultural techniques that are adopted at the international level.
In the paper, the following things have been highlighted:
- Relay Planting has helped in increasing production.
- Strip rotation or within-field rotation can be used for planting strips of other plants (such as grass, fruits) besides the main crop, which is more fruitful.
- Soil mulching with available means such as crop straw helps in production of major crop such as wheat or rice.
- ‘No-Till’ or ‘Reduced tillage’ helps in increase the annual crop yield. Also, the traditional monoculture cropping is up by 15.6% and reached 49.9%, while the environmental footprint has decreased by 17.3%.
This led to an assessment that small farmers can grow more food and also help in reducing the environmental footprint.
Now the question that arises is that how are these implemented on small farmers. As per the stats, there are a lot of small farmers in India. Most of them have less than 2 hectares of land. Nearly 70% of rural households in India are still depend on agriculture for their primarily livelihood. Out of these 70%, about 82% are small and marginal farmers. In 2017-18, the total production of food-grains were estimated to be 275 million tonnes. About 30% of all farmers borrow from formal sources. The farm loan waivers done by the state governments have been helpful but still more than 50% farmers struggle to borrow from moneylenders.
Relay cropping means to grow different types of crops in a single season. Growing rice(or wheat), cauliflower, onion, summer gourd (or potato onion, lady fingers and maize), in the same season is an example of relay cropping. Why should we do this? Well, there are many reasons to it. This will reduce the dependency on single crop hence the risk is less. This also means that you will be able to have a proper balance between hard work and labour. Small farmers at Telangana, Karnataka and Maharashtra are practicing relay cropping and earning money. They plant onions, turmeric, chillies, ginger, garlic and even some native fruits, thus making profit.
There are certain challenges in relay cropping too. Mechanisation can be difficult and the management requirements are higher. Women plays an important role here. They plant commodities for the home, such as greens, leafy vegetables and pulses like green gram, millet, horse gram, cowpeas, and also grass. These help in adding nitrogen to the soil and also improves the air. This also reduces the carbon dioxide, ozone, and the oxides of nitrogen and phosphorus from the air we inhale.
Strip cropping is mostly used in the United States. The fields in US are larger than those in India. Here they grow wheat, along with corn and soyabean, in the same farm using strip cropping. In India, large fields (owned by cities and state governments) are divided into strips, and strips of grass are left to grow between the crops. Planting of trees has helped in stabilising the desert in Western India.
Western Karnataka (located near Telangana and North Tamil Nadu) is a drought prone area. As a result, 80% of farmers grow groundnuts. Karnataka Watershed Deveplomnent (KWD) joined hands with AMI Foundation to convince farmers to stop the usage of millet, fodder and groundnut.
These methods are not easy for small farmers in India but they can be practised in larger farms that are owned by industries and governments. Soil mulching requires keeping the soil covered with straw, leaves and the like, even when the land is in use. This leads to less erosion, helps in retaining moisture, and keeps beneficial organisms, such as earthworms in place. The benefits can also be reaped by not tilling the soil.
These four methods suggested by the international group are worth following in India. By using them, the problem of food grains in the country can be avoided. This simply means that with higher yields, farmers will have more crops to sell. With more crops, the influx of crops in the mandis will increase and the work of commission agents will increase. Mandi accounting will thus take more time. India’s No. 1 Agri Trading App Bijak has come up with a solution to the problems related to mandi accounting for the commission agents sitting in the mandis. Understanding the concerns of commission agents in mandi accounting and turning them into opportunities, Bijak which is India’s Number 1 Agritrading App, came up with a solution for mandi accounting called ChargeERP.
ChargeERP the solution
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