[Solved] What are the major reasons for declining rice and wheat yield in the cropping system? How crop diversification is helpful to stabilize the yield of the crop in the system? ( UPSC GS-3 Mains 2017)

[Solved] What are the major reasons for declining rice and wheat yield in the cropping system? How crop diversification is helpful to stabilize the yield of the crop in the system? ( UPSC GS-3 Mains 2017)

Average yields for wheat and rice have been declining in North-west India particularly, due to unsustainable agricultural practices adopted by farmers in India. These include:

 Excessive use of groundwater leading to poor water use efficiency and depletion of groundwater.

 • Multiple infestations of weed flora, insect pests and diseases.

 • over-use of fertilizers,

 • excessive flooding of farms during paddy cultivation which leads to salinity,

 • lack of crop diversification leading to nutrient deficiency in soil.

 • Poor farming methods, such as burning of stubble.

 Apart from these, agricultural sector is one of the sensitive areas which is also influenced by the global warming and associated climate change. Because of this monsoon cycle is affected and temperatures have increased causing further disruptions in whether cycle, all this has affected the cultivation period and has also brought water-tables lower.

 Crop diversification benefits:

 Practice of growing more than one crop (or enterprise) in any year to increase financial and biological stability of the farm. Similarly, the practice of planting a succession of crops in the same field. Practice is used for the management of pests, plant nutrition, crop scheduling and so on. These are together known as croprotation and diversification.

 While crop diversification is certainly an important component of the overall strategy for small farm development, other dimensions of diversification such as livestock, employment, and income are also equally important for ensuring the economic viability and survival of small farmers as socio-economic entity.

 Crop diversification can help to stabilize the yields in the following manner:

 • By restoring nutrients in the soil, for example, leguminous plants, like beans restore nitrogen in soil.

 • Crop diversification can better tolerate the ups and downs in the market value of farm products and may ensure economic stability for farming families of the country.

 • By rotating the water intensive crops with water-efficient crops in between, water tables can be allowed to replenish themselves.

 Apart from this, under the aberrant weather situations, dependence on one or two major cereals (rice, wheat, etc.) is always risky. Hence, crop diversification through substitution of one crop or mixed cropping/intercropping 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.

  • Rice-wheat cropping system is labour, water, capital and energy-intensive, and becomes less profitable as availability of these resources diminishes. The problem is further exacerbated by dynamics of climate change. The relevant factors for decline in yield are discussed below Decline in Soil fertility: Due to continuous irrigation and use of excessive flood irrigation, soil in rice-wheat cropping system has become saline. It has resulted into decrease in crop yield.
  • Climate change: According to studies, climate change has a negative effect on major crops such as wheat, rice and maize. Increase in annual temperature range has also affected the crop yield of rice and wheat.
  • Increased input cost: High rate of infestation with weeds and pests along with contamination of ground water have resulted into high cost of input for cultivation of rice and wheat.
  • Change in water availability: Due to excessive use of ground water and consequent depletion of ground water resources, water availability has declined. This has resulted in decline in crop yield.
  • Therefore, it is imperative to focus on alternate crops. Crop diversification refers to a shift from the regional dominance of one crop to production of a number of crops. Crop diversification helps in: Maintaining soil fertility: Only those crops are grown in a particular region which are suitable to particular agro climate zone and it helps in maintaining soil fertility because excessive use of nutrients, irrigation is not required.
  • To arrest depletion of ground water: It will help in diversifying cropping patterns from water guzzling crops such as paddy to pulses, oilseeds, maize with the aim of tackling the problem of depleting water table.
  • Diversification can also provide habitat for beneficial insects and at the same time reduce colonization by pest.
  • The government of India has launched crop diversification scheme in the original green revolution areas of Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh. Under Crop Diversification Programme assistance is provided to states for conducting cluster demonstrations on alternate crops, promotion of water saving technologies, distribution of farm machinery, and awareness through training.
  • Major reasons for declining yield of rice and wheat
  • Declining soil productivity
  • The soil must hold certain amount of moisture, organic matter and minerals for supporting demanding crops such as rice and wheat. Due to increasing salinity and over burden, the productivity of the land has significantly reduced.
  • Climatic changes
  • Climate change had a great impact on growth of sensitive crops such as rice and wheat. The rice crops suffered due to lack of rains and water. Wheat, which requires mild winters for optimum growth was impacted due to increasing heat.
  • Unhealthy and unscientific practices
  • Certain agricultural practices often lead to declining output from crops. These include excessive irrigation, over use of fertilizers and mismanagement of crop cycle.
  • How crop diversification can stabilise?
  • Nutrient cycling
  • Every crop has different demand for nutrients that are taken during different time of growth.  Growing rice crop continuously will not give the land time to regenerate the nutrients for the next crop. Alternate crops will provide this stop gap for nutrients production.
  • Reduce stress on land resources
  • Dry crops like cereals are very helpful when it comes to land restoration. They grow without much efforts and also do not consume much resources. In addition they play a major part in nitrogen fixation process.
  • Protection against epidemics
  • Productivity can also be reduced due to epidemics. By growing different variety of crops on a same land in different parts, we stop the spread of the epidemic and also the loss can be reduced significantly.

 Major reasons for declining rice and wheat yield in cropping system are:

  • Practising of monoculture
  • Land is loosing fertility
  • Global warming
  • Excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides
  • No proper land preparation prior to sow the seeds

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