Smallholders In Poverty Alleviation via High Value Crops In Western U. P. by Conservation Agriculture
Singh B, Naresh R K1,,*, Kumar Amit
Department of Horticulture, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel University f Agriculture & Technology, Meerut, 250 110 India
1Department of Agronomy Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel University of Agriculture & Technology, Meerut, 250 110 India
*Corresponding author email: r.knaresh@ yahoo.com
Indian agriculture is characterized by small farm holdings. The average farm size is only 1.57 hectares. Around 93 percent of farmers have land holdings smaller than 4 ha and they cultivate nearly 55 percent of the arable land. On the other hand, only 1.6 of the farmers have operational land holdings above 10 ha and they utilize 17.4 percent of the total cultivated land. The crop diversification is the significant presence of different crops in the production space and is often looked into from the perspective of cropping pattern i.e. distribution of acreage over the crops. The crop diversification is evolving with variable dynamics on time and space. The pace of diversification and its resultant economic gain depend on the environment influenced by economic, social and ecological factors. The dynamics of crop diversification accordingly relates to differentiated allocation of resources for production of different crops over time and space. A diversified crop profile means a significant share of large number of crops in the overall acreage. The crop diversification becomes an integrated organ of agriculture diversification, because of its feature of allocation of inelastic factors of production amongst competing crop choices. diversification towards high-value crops can potentially increase farm incomes especially in a country like India where demand for high-value food products has been increasing more quickly than that for staple crops. Indian agriculture is overwhelmingly dominated by small holders and researchers have long debated the ability of a smallholder-dominated subsistence farm economy to diversify into riskier high-value crops. Present paper provide evidence that the gradual diversification of Indian agriculture towards high-value crops exhibits a pro-smallholder bias with smallholders playing a proportionally larger role in the cultivation of vegetables. The observed patterns are consistent with simple comparative advantage-based production choices. The comparatively high labor endowments of the small farmers, as reflected in their greater family sizes induce them to diversify towards vegetables. Furthermore, the probability of participation in vegetable cultivation as well as land allocation to horticulture decreases with the size of land holdings. Small or medium holders do not appear to allocate a greater share of land to vegetables. Crop diversification towards high value crops indicates that greater attention must be devoted to this avenue for rural income growth and offer an opportunity to augment income, generate employment opportunities, empower women farmers and alleviate poverty. The present paper undertakes the perspective of crop diversification for western Uttar Pradesh, probing its scope, responses and policy framework with a view to provide input in the ongoing policy exercises.