Cropping pattern and crop diversification in unirrigated agriculture
Historically unirrigated farmers practice high diversity in cropping systems with livestock integration which is an inbuilt risk management strategy. The cropping patterns have evolved based on the rainfall, length of the growing season and soil types. However, due to changed consumer preferences and market demand, farmers are now rapidly shifting to crops and cropping patterns which are more remunerative. But the change in cropping pattern not towards the food crops to commercial crops and other high remunerative crop. The change in cropping pattern shows sharp increase in area under maize and cotton took place in few years at the cost of coarse cereals like sorghum and pearl millet mainly due to higher returns. Such changes will have implication on fodder availability to livestock. However, it is viable only in unirrigate where the miner irrigation sources are possible.
The change in cropping pattern will have implications on the resource use. Continuous mono cropping increase vulnerability of farmers to weather risks depletes soil fertility, ground water and leads to build up of pests and diseases. This issue has to be dealt both through technology and policy. In general, the India agrarian structure is dominated by marginal and small farmers not only in terms of number but also in terms of area cultivated. In this context, type of crop diversification and extent of crop diversification may differ among the different land holders (Gupta and Tewari, 1985; Kalpana, et al., 2009). The cost of cultivation in Unirrigated agriculture includes plough, manure and harvesting. Hence, the cost and return of the Unirrigated agriculture may differ according to farm character, farmer character, type of crop and other factors.