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Indian Journal of Social Research Vol.56 (4) (July - Aug, 2015) (545-552)

CROP DIVERSIFICATION: OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVING RURAL LIVELIHOODS IN SIKKIM

Raghavendra Singh, Subhash Babu, R K Avasthe and
Chewang Dem Phempunadi
ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region Sikkim Centre
Tadong, Gangtok, Sikkim-737 102

Abstract

Sikkim, a small State in the Eastern Himalaya, where predominance of mixed type of agriculture is still at subsistence level rather than commercial. The state has plenty of people living below the poverty line (36.55%) and undernourished population (57%). Thus, diversification of subsistence agriculture to high value horticulture and livestock is on the rise. Fruits, vegetables, floriculture and spice crops, other than large cardamom, are cultivated in horti-agri farming systems. The nature of diversification differs across regions due to existence of wide heterogeneity in agro-climate and socio-economic environments.The extent of horticulture diversification has been about 39 per cent in terms of gross cropped area, 65 per cent in terms of value of crops produced and 83 per cent in terms of net income. Ddiversification through off-season vegetables seems to possess great potential in most of the areas in both temperate and non-temperate belts of the Sikkim Himalayan region. Climatic conditions in many parts of the Sikkim Himalaya are suitable to produce crops like tomato, peas, beans, cabbage, and capsicum along with the food grain crops.

In the agricultural context, diversification can be regarded as the re-allocation of some of the farm’s productive resources, such as land, capital, farm equipment and paid labour, into new activities for value-addition and provision of services to other farmers. Crop diversification has been recognized as an effective strategy for achieving the objectives of food security, withstanding weather aberrations, conserving natural resources, nutrition security, income growth, poverty alleviation and employment generation, judicious use of land and water resources, sustainable agricultural development and environmental improvement. Diversification of agriculture may involve inclusion of (i) agriculture and allied activities like animal husbandry, fisheries etc. and (ii) cropping pattern/system. Crop diversification refers to shift from the regional dominance of one crop to the regional production of number of crops, to meet the ever increasing demand of cereals, pulses, vegetables, fruits, oilseeds, fibre, fodder and grasses...

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