Crop Diversification

Crop diversification refers to the addition of new crops or cropping systems to agricultural production on a particular farm taking into account the different returns from value-added crops with complementary marketing opportunities. It is intended to give a wider choice in the production of a variety of crops in a given area so as to expand production related activities on various crops and also to lessen risk. It is generally viewed as a shift from traditionally grown less remunerative crops to more remunerative crops. Often low volume high-value crops like spices also aid in crop diversification. Crop diversification and also the growing of large number of crops are practiced in rainfed lands to reduce the risk factor of crop failures due to drought or less rains. Crop substitution and shift can be done in the areas with distinct soil problems. For example, the growing of rice in high water table areas replacing oilseeds, pulses and cotton; promotion of soybean in place of sorghum in vertisols (medium and deep black soils) etc.

The aim of crop diversification is to increase crop portfolio so that farmers are not dependent on a single crop to generate their income. Diversification of agricultural production can increase natural biodiversity, strengthening the ability of the agro-ecosystem to respond to various stresses, reducing the risk of total crop failure and also providing producers with alternative means of generating income.