Farmers directly selling their produce to consumers results in increased incomes for the farmers. E.g., Apni Mandi (Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan); Hadaspar Mandi (Pune); Rythu Bazars (vegetable and fruit markets in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana).
National and multi-national fast-food chains are now entering into contracts with farmers to get the produce of desired quality.
Diversification into Productive Activities:
Diversification has two aspects; one is the change in cropping pattern; and
The shift of workforce from agriculture to other allied activities (livestock, poultry, fisheries etc.) and non-agriculture sector.
The need for diversification:
Greater risk in depending exclusively on farming for livelihood.
Provide productive, sustainable livelihood options to rural people.
In areas with limited irrigation facilities, difficulty in finding alternate meaningful employment during the Rabi season (Non-Monsoon season).
Therefore, expansion into other sectors is essential to provide supplementary gainful employment and in realising higher levels of income for rural people to overcome poverty and other tribulations.
Various sub-sectors which permit diversification into them include agro-processing industries, leather industry, tourism etc. Also, traditional home-based industries like crafts, pottery etc., lack infrastructural and other support. Various sub-sectors in detail are as follows:
In India, the farming community uses the mixed crop-livestock farming system (the livestock sector alone provides alternative livelihood options to over 70 million small and marginal farmers.)
It increases stability in income, food security, transport, fuel and nutrition for the family.
Performance of the Indian dairy sector
Over the last three decades, they have been quite impressive.
Milk production in the country has increased by about ten times between 1951-2016. Mainly due to ‘Operation Flood’.
It is a system whereby all the farmers can pool their milk produced according to different grading (based on quality), and the same is processed and marketed to urban centres through cooperatives.
In this system, the farmers are assured of a fair price and income from the supply of milk to urban markets.
Meat, eggs, wool and other by-products are also emerging as important productive sectors for diversification.
Distribution of Poultry and Livestock in India, 2012
In India, after a progressive increase in budgetary allocations and the introduction of new technologies in fisheries and aquaculture, the development of fisheries has come a long way.
Fish production in terms of value is 65 and 35 percent, from inland and marine sources, respectively.
In India, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu are major fish producing states.
Poverty, underemployment, and low per capita incomes are problems facing the people engaged in fisheries.
There is a need to increase credit facilities through cooperatives and SHGs for fisherwomen to meet the working capital requirements for marketing.
Horticultural crops consist of crops such as fruits, vegetables, tuber crops, flowers, medicinal and aromatic plants, spices and plantation crops. (wide variety due to India’s varying soils and climate).
These crops play a vital role in providing food and nutrition, besides addressing employment concerns.
The horticulture sector contributes nearly one-third of the value of agriculture output and six per cent of the Gross Domestic Product of India.
India has emerged as a world leader in producing a variety of fruits like mangoes, bananas, coconuts, cashew nuts and a number of spices and is the second-largest producer of fruits and vegetables.
Improved economic conditions of farmers engaged in Horticulture have been there.
Flower harvesting, nursery maintenance, hybrid seed production and tissue culture, propagation of fruits and flowers and food processing are highly remunerative employment options for women in rural areas.
Enhancing its role requires investment in infrastructures like electricity, cold storage systems, marketing linkages, small-scale processing units and technology improvement and dissemination.
Other Alternate Livelihood Options
Information Technology can play a major role in enhancing the creative potential and knowledge embedded in the society, along with the better prediction of areas of food insecurity and weather vulnerability.
Acting as a change catalyst, it has the potential to create many new opportunities in the rural areas of the country.
Sustainable Development and Organic Farming
Chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticides are polluting water sources, harming soils, livestock and natural ecosystems.
As an alternative, organic agriculture is a whole system of farming that restores, maintains and enhances the ecological balance.
Benefits of Organic Farming
Substitute costlier agricultural inputs with cheaper locally produced organic inputs.
Income through exports on the back of rising demand for organic crops.
Better nutritional value as compared to chemical farming.
The produce is pesticide-free and produced in an environmentally sustainable way.
Limitations with Organic Farming (Indian Context)
Awareness and willingness to adopt new technology on account of farmers are needed.
Inadequate infrastructure and the problem of marketing the products.
Yields from organic farming are less than modern agricultural farming in the initial years.
Small and marginal farmers may find it difficult to adapt to largescale production.
Organic produce may also have more blemishes and shorter shelf life than sprayed produce.
Choice in production of off-season crops is quite limited in organic farming.
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