Asian paddy farmers urged to opt for crop diversification

Crop diversification is increasingly being talked about as a strategy to help paddy farmers to not depend only on rice planting for income, apart from helping to improve the efforts on dealing with climate change and other social issues.

If the strategy is doable and feasible, helped by using a short duration rice variety, farmers will no longer need to spend so much time in the paddy fields as they can reap a second income when shifting to plant fruits or vegetables.

Indian news sites revealed that farmers in Punjab and Haryana are now planting rice six weeks later than their normal crop cycle because of difficulties to get groundwater.

"As winter begins in November, farmers have very little time left to plant their wheat. When farmers were harvesting paddy in September-October earlier, there was enough time to prepare their land. Now the farmers have the compulsion to quickly clear the land for the next crop. The farmers, in a hurry, then simply pour diesel and set the remaining stubble on fire. That is at the root of the early winter smog problem."

A better strategy then is to shift more and more farmers to go for planting fruits and vegetables where the Gulf areas are very needful of fresh fruits and also maize or corn, it added.

According to The Economic Times, more farmers in Punjab are taking up cultivation of cotton, maize and basmati as the crops aren’t as water dependent as paddy. In the Philippines, the challenge is different but crop diversification could yet be the answer again.

The Manila Times said, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is in the process of drafting a national crop diversification program to support rice farmers who's struggling in the face of competition from rice imports.

Agriculture Secretary, William Dar, pointed to the fact that there are areas that is unsuitable for rice production and those will be targeted for the crop diversification.

Crop diversification refers to the addition of new crops or cropping systems to agricultural production on a particular farm which can help increased revenue, creating new markets and improved rural communities quality of life.

Meanwhile, for Myanmar, the Southeast Asian nation has reportedly try to diversify it's rice-centric policy to combat malnutrition, worsening obesity and dietary-related diseases, said an article on the Globaltimes portal.

It has launched a five-year nutrition plan to alter the people's eating habits, which includes the plan to diversify the agriculture sector so consumers can access a varied food basket and farmers income will increase.

Source: nst.com.my


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