5.5 Diversification of Agricultural Activities

5.5.1 Meaning and Importance of Diversification of Agricultural Activities


Diversification in agriculture is crucial to mitigate risks in the sector and offer sustainable livelihood options to rural communities. It involves a significant portion of the growing agricultural workforce finding alternative employment in non-farm sectors. Diversification can be categorized into two aspects:

(a) Diversification of Crop Production: Shift from mono-cropping to multi-cropping, reducing market risks due to price fluctuations. In areas dominated by subsistence farming, it implies a move towards commercial farming.

(b) Diversification of Productive Activity: Shifting from crop farming to other productive activities, exploring alternative avenues for sustainable livelihood. Non-farm sectors include agro-processing industries, food processing, leather, tourism, and traditional household-based industries.


Diversification into non-farm activities is significant because it:

(a) Reduces risk in the agriculture sector.

(b) Provides sustainable livelihood options in rural areas.

(c) Maintains ecological balance.

5.5.2 Agricultural Diversification in India/Non-Farm Areas of Production Activity

1. Animal Husbandry, Dairying, and Poultry:

1. Mixed crop-livestock farming system is prevalent in India.

2. Provides stability in income, food security, transportation, fuel, nutrition, and manure.

3. Livestock sector offers alternate livelihoods to over 70 million small and marginal farmers.

4. Poultry accounts for 42% of total livestock in India.

5. Successful initiatives like ‘Operation Flood’ in Gujarat have led to significant increases in milk production.

6. India ranks first in milk production.

2. Fisheries:

1. India ranks second globally in fish production.

2. Inland sources contribute about 64% to total fish production.

3. Socio-economic challenges for fishermen include underemployment, low earnings, illiteracy, and indebtedness.

4. Need for increased credit facilities for fisherwomen.

3. Horticulture:

1. India cultivates diverse horticultural crops due to varying climate and soil conditions.

2. Plays a crucial role in providing food, nutrition, and employment.

3. ‘Golden Revolution’ period (1991-2003) witnessed substantial growth in horticulture.

4. India is the largest producer of various fruits, vegetables, spices, and plantation crops.

5. Horticulture production surpassed foodgrains and oilseeds in 2012-13.

4. Cottage and Household Industry:

1. Traditional sources of non-farm production activity in rural areas.

2. Includes activities like spinning, weaving, dyeing, bleaching, doll making, soap and candle manufacturing, mushroom cultivation, bee-keeping, and poultry farming.

3. Often promoted by women’s groups.

Challenges and Solutions for Non-Farm Activities:

1. Livestock:

1. Impressive numbers, but low productivity compared to other countries.

2. Solutions include promoting good breeds, improved veterinary care, and better credit facilities.

2. Fisheries:

1. Issues of over-fishing and pollution.

2. Solutions involve reorienting welfare programs, controlling water pollution, and sustainable practices.

3. Horticulture:

1. Requires more investment in infrastructure.

2. Solutions include increased investment in electricity, cold storage systems, marketing linkages, small-scale processing units, and technology improvement.

4. IT – Every Village a Knowledge Centre:

1. Information technology’s role in achieving sustainable development and food security.

2. Acts as a tool for releasing creative potential, providing expert opinions on weather forecasts, crop treatment, and more.

3. A knowledge economy with potential for employment generation in rural areas.

Objective Type Questions

1. What is the primary purpose of diversification in agriculture?

a) Increase in mono-cropping

b) Mitigation of risks in the sector

c) Expansion of subsistence farming

d) Reduction of non-farm employment

Answer: b) Mitigation of risks in the sector

2. What does the diversification of crop production involve?

a) Shifting from commercial farming to subsistence farming

b) Transition from multi-cropping to mono-cropping

c) Moving towards mono-cropping from subsistence farming

d) Shift from mono-cropping to multi-cropping

Answer: d) Shift from mono-cropping to multi-cropping

3. What is the significance of diversification of productive activity in agriculture?

a) Expansion of mono-cropping

b) Exploration of alternative avenues for sustainable livelihood

c) Focus on subsistence farming

d) Elimination of non-farm sectors

Answer: b) Exploration of alternative avenues for sustainable livelihood

4. Which sector involves the shift from crop farming to other areas for sustainable livelihood?

a) Crop Processing

b) Non-Farm Sectors

c) Agro-Industries

d) Traditional Farming

Answer: b) Non-Farm Sectors

5. What is the primary importance of diversification into non-farm activities?

a) Increase risk in the agriculture sector

b) Provide unstable livelihood options

c) Reduce risk in the agriculture sector

d) Eliminate ecological balance

Answer: c) Reduce risk in the agriculture sector

6. In which state did ‘Operation Flood’ successfully contribute to increased milk production?

a) Maharashtra

b) Gujarat

c) Kerala

d) Tamil Nadu

Answer: b) Gujarat

7. What is the rank of India in global fish production?

a) First

b) Second

c) Third

d) Fourth

Answer: b) Second

8. What socio-economic challenges do fishermen face?

a) High literacy rates

b) Low per capita earnings

c) Abundance of job opportunities

d) Low indebtedness

Answer: b) Low per capita earnings

9. Which period is referred to as the ‘Golden Revolution’ in horticulture?

a) 1980-1990

b) 1991-2003

c) 2004-2010

d) 2011-2019

Answer: b) 1991-2003

10. What is the primary challenge in the horticulture sector that requires more investment?

a) Lack of skilled labor

b) Excessive infrastructure

c) Insufficient electricity

d) Overproduction of crops

Answer: c) Insufficient electricity

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