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SANF- Farmers Should Consider Short Duration Crops For Higher Productivity And Income

Our government time and again has reiterated the advantages of integrated farming systems and intercropping for small and marginal farmers. Livestock based integrated farming systems and intercropping a short duration crop in a long duration crop not only leads to higher productivity and income but also ensures higher employment opportunities for the farmers.

The rate of growth of agricultural output is gradually declining in recent years, as is the relative contribution of agriculture to the GDP. Talking about the performance of agriculture by crop categories, the situation is not hunky-dory either. All of this has led India from being a self-reliant nation of food surplus to a net importer of food, thus indicating that the agricultural sector in India is facing a crisis today. It means that the income derived from these activities is not sufficient enough to meet the expenditure of the cultivators, which is what has led to the gradual decline in the condition of our farmers. If we don’t do anything now when our country is moving towards a point of no return, it won’t be long before all the other sectors and the national economy will be hit in several ways, which will affect a majority of the people in India and the economy as a whole in the long run. For that, agriculture has to be made a profitable enterprise, which is the only way to attract the farmers to carry on with the crop production activities.

The only way to solve the present crisis is by increasing the investment in agriculture and its allied sectors on the part of the government, and increased reliance in the allied sectors of agriculture on the part of farmers. The time has come now for all farmers, agricultural laborers, Government to collectively work towards reviving agriculture and “Save India from Agriculture Crisis.”

It’s time farmers adopted integrated farming systems, a livestock-based integrated farming system in particular, for livelihood improvement.

Now, let us throw some light on intercropping.

Intercropping is the practice of growing two or more crops at the same time on the same piece of land with a definite row pattern, for example, growing rice + soybean in a 4:2 row ratio i.e. after every 4 rows of rice, 2 rows of soybean is sown. The main objective of intercropping is to produce a greater yield on a given piece of land by utilizing resources that would otherwise not be utilized by a single crop. You need to consider a few factors for intercropping, including the soil, climate, crops, and varieties. It is especially important not to have crops competing with each other (the main crop and intercrops) for physical space, nutrients, water, and sunlight, then the entire purpose behind intercropping will be lost.

Main goals of intercropping/mixed cropping:

  1. Optimal utilization of resources such as land, labor, and inputs.
  2. Efficient pest and disease management.
  3. Insurance against total crop failure under atypical weather conditions under rainfed conditions or disease and pest epidemics, thus ensuring stability and food security for small and marginal farmers and their families.
  4. Increase in total productivity and income per unit land area.
  5. Soil and water conservation, soil fertility buildup, and farm diversification.

The biggest benefit of intercropping a short duration crop in a long duration crop, say, for example in Melia Dubia (Malabar neem) is that the short duration crop will mature early and provide intermediate income to the farmers, which will help him sustain and sail through any adverse situation. Even the government has suggested farmers cultivate short-duration varieties like jowar, horsegram, cowpea, Korra, red, green, and black gram given the drought conditions and deficient rainfall.

In Melia Dubia plantation, near about every kind of fruit and vegetable can be grown as an intercrop, starting from ash gourd, eggplant, drumstick, ginger, papaya, turmeric, to mango, coconut, sugarcane, red gram, pomegranate, marigold. It is the best host, you can grow any crop in Melia Dubia project as an intercrop, it helps other crops by increasing nitrogen content in the soil, secretes carbon, helps other roots in getting water, air, thus leading to the rapid growth of the plant.

Melia Dubia or Malabar Neem is a long duration crop that grows very tall in a short period. You can go for any gram crops or pulses, or legume crops as an intercrop during the first year of planting, with vegetables being the best bet. After 3-4 years when canopy enlarges, you can go for any shade-loving trees or can do herbs farming in Melia Dubia project as an intercrop.

Examples of short duration crops:

Short duration crops are the crops that are grown and managed only for a short period and are grown for higher productivity and intermediate income for the farmers, and also generate employment opportunities for small and marginal farmers. In addition to that, short-duration crops also maintain and enhance the sustainability of a production system by improving water quality, soil fertility, and lead to the suppression of weeds, soil erosion, and pests.

  1. Buckwheat, cowpea, oats, oilseed radish, and yellow mustard are examples of short duration crops that are grown for 45 – 60 days.
  2. Examples of short duration crops that are grown for 6 months include baby corn, baby carrot, cotton, saffron, lemongrass, mango, okra, betel leaf, bitter gourd, etc.
  3. Most of the cereals and leafy vegetables are short-duration crops. Crops like cotton, carrot, sorghum, and wheat fall in this category as well.

Most Profitable (Short-Duration) Crops in India:

Outlining the most profitable crops in India, crops with the highest profit per acre in India:

Coarse Cereals and Millets- They are the short duration warm weather or Kharif crops (the summer or monsoon crop in India, generally sown at the beginning of the monsoon season around June and harvested by September or October) that are used both as food and fodder. Important millets in India are Jawar, Bajra, Ragi, etc. Jowar is the main food grain in India. They are known as dryland crops as they can be grown in areas with 50-100 cm rainfall. Coarse cereals are mainly grown in an inferior alluvial or loamy soil.

Millet is considered a smart crop as its cultivation can keep drylands productive and ensure future food and nutritional security. These Nutri-cereals are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, phytochemicals, and antioxidants that can help to eliminate several nutritional deficiency diseases. They are known for their higher efficiency in absorbing and utilizing carbon dioxide, and for their hardiness that enables them to withstand prolonged periods of drought, high temperatures and still produce grains and fodder.

Wheat- After rice, this is the second most important crop in India. It is a Rabi crop (it is the spring harvest or winter season crop of India, sown during October end and harvested in March and April every year). Other essential Rabi crops include barley, mustard, sesame, peas, etc.

Cultivating wheat as an intercrop improves soil quality, cycles nutrients, and provides nitrogen credit, breaking the cycle of annual and perennial weeds, protecting soil from soil erosion, distributing farm operations on time and providing a good return on investments.

Pulses- Many pulse crops are grown in India, including Gram, Pigeonpea, Lentil, Fieldpeas, etc. Pulses are consumed as Dal- a cheap source of plant protein, and hence are primarily consumed because of bodybuilding properties. They are also known for their medicinal properties. You can cultivate pulse crops in Melia Dubia plantation in Kharif, Rabi, and Zaid (March to June- the short season between Kharif season and Rabi season) seasons of the Agricultural year.

Besides being an affordable source of protein and a soil health enhancer, it can help secure farmers’ income. Not to mention, it ensures food and nutrition security. Moreover, pulse naturally produces their nitrogen, which means they produce their fertilizer (since nitrogen is a primary component of fertilizer). Their roots, left in the ground after harvesting, leave nitrogen behind for the next crop so it doesn’t need as much fertilizer, hence reducing the cost of artificial fertilizers and preventing resultant soil pollution.

Their nitrogen-fixing properties improve soil fertility. Plus, pulses are water-efficient crops, their crop residue can be used as animal fodder (in livestock integrated farming system) to improve the quality of milk.

Vegetables- People lately have come to understand the benefits of consuming more fresh fruits and vegetables, which is one of the most important things one can do to stay healthy. Fresh vegetables are loaded with essential nutrients that promote better health, including antioxidants and vitamins, therefore making vegetable cultivation more practical and economical. Economical because vegetables produce more biomass per unit area and bring in more prices per unit production.

SANF GREENMENS PVT LTD is very well aware of the humongous agrarian crisis prevalent in India, which is plaguing the lives of our farmers. We are trying to bring in a progressive evolution in the field of agriculture by propagating natural farming techniques to improve the condition of our farmers, and for the overall growth and development of India in the larger scheme of things.

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