Diversifying land use

Small farmers, used to raising only field crops, are now have the opportunity of a whole range of new enterprises for their land. Supplementary income can be derived from subsidiary enterprises. Dairy, goats, piggery, aromatic plants for perfume manufacture, fuel, fodder and quick growing timber are some uses which practitioners are now introducing to help small farmers earn higher levels of income. Some enterprises such as sericulture (raising of silkworms), dairy, bee-keeping and fibre plants lend themselves to the production of more valuable products by increasing productive employment and income. Mixed farming methods, such as agro-forestry, inter-cropping, crop and livestock combinations are the other means for maximizing the productivity of land and income. A number of these options have been combined into packages for marginal farmers such as the ,one acre technology, introduced in some parts of India. on one acre a family can develop productive assets of fibre, fruit, fuel, fodder plants and a cross-bred cow.

Such diversified farming systems utilize available resources and contribute to soil fertility while they enable small and marginal farmers to increase labour demand, reduce risk and spread cash flow. They usually include crops, livestock and permanent trees. Much international, national and local research effort is being directed to developing a range of technologies suited to particular geographies and climates.

A variety of organizations are promoting other supplementary income sources. The Asian Institute of Rural Development, in India, receives requests from many countries to introduce sericulture for small farmers who can afford to invest in labour intensive operations. The Bharatiya Agro-Industries Foundation has been involved in cross breeding local cows and educating rural farmers in techniques of water development and fodder production. The National Dairy Development Board works with small and marginal farmers and the landless to provide access to technology and services to raise cows and buffaloes. Dairy co-operative members earn higher incomes by marketing the milk without a middle-trader, and having milk collections twice daily.

In Indonesia, the dairy and agricultural work of Sikeb Dairy and Agricultural Project North Sumatra was begun to increase the community's self-reliance and sense of responsibility for their own future. Community leaders established the project to provide new options for local people who were unable to provide adequately for their families due to lack of skills training and job opportunities. They were able to improve living conditions for the whole community as well.

Unused land
Land type/use
Type Classification:
D: Detailed strategies