Sustainable Hill Agriculture: An Overview

Sustainable Hill Agriculture: An Overview
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Sustainable Hill Agriculture: An Overview

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Publisher: Agrobios Publications
ISBN: 9788177544534
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PREFACE Agriculture is the predominant livelihood activity in hills. Hill and mountain region in India is spread over an area of 53.8 million ha, which is inhabited by 33.7 million people of whom more than 90 live in rural setup. Agriculture is much more important for hills economy as scope for industrialization is limited due to topographical constraints and environmental concerns. There are vast forests, pastures, grazing lands, miscellaneous groves and trees, much higher rainfall, moderate temperature and intensive natural vegetation which add lot of organic matter every year to soils. Naturally the fertility of soils in hills is comparatively high as compared to plain areas. Hills also have a season vegetables hi-value vegetable seeds sub- temperate and temperate fruits like apple, almond, kiwi etc., medicinal plants and other high value cash crops. However sustaining productivity in the hills is a major challenge. Sustainability is the ability of a system and its sub systems to maintain a certain well defined level of performance or output over time. Sustainable agriculture development thus implies the management of resources including land, labour, capital, technology and water. The hills have limited cultivated land across the Indian Himalayas. Their economy is largely dependent upon agricultural crops, horticulture and livestock rearing. Farming in hills assumes greater significance in comparison to lowlands for reasons of fragility of environment. Agriculture is an important of all farming systems in the hills. Hills and mountains are distributed all over the country covering 23 states. However, the largest area is located in the Himalayas, which is the most prominent hill eco-system. It consists of two distinct geo-political sub regions, viz., North Eastern NE Hills and North-Western NW Hills. In total there are eight states in NE hills and three states in NW hills. Climatically both the regions are different in nature. Annual rainfall in NE hills is very high 280012000 mm per year as compared to NW hills 350-3000 mm per year . The pattern of agriculture is also different in the two regions. Shifting cultivation is predominant in NE hills, whereas settled cultivation is traditionally common in NW hills. Rice is the major crop of NE hills. Pig, mithun, yak, cow and poultry are major livestock in this region. In contrast, wheat, rice and maize are major crops and cow, sheep, goat, buffalo and yak are the important livestock of NW hills. Both the regions have tremendous bio-diversity. The conservation of biological diversity and genetic resources in hills is an
important issue in ensuring food security. Apart from that the adoption of new strategies would increase their potential based on plant genetic variability for favourable characteristics in primitive cultivars. Also relatives of various crops can be exploited in breeding programmes for developing varieties adopted to hill environments. The role of biodiversity, land races, multipurpose trees and multipurpose crops for sustainable agriculture is all well known and must be harnessed in future in 21st century. Land degradation including soil erosion is one of the major problems faced by the farmers of hilly areas of the world. Many-a-times soils are of poor structure and contain low organic matter resulting in enhanced rates of soil erosion under unprotected conditions. Agro-forestry is an age old land use system which has been practiced by farmers in hilly areas of our country. Shifting cultivation, a sequential agro-forestry system, was the initial attempt in hilly areas to grow food. The system which was identified as stable and efficient, have become heavy environmental and socio-economic liability. The agro-forestry systems are superior to other cropping systems due to their