Can interlinking of rivers can help in crop diversification? How?

Indian agriculture is referred as gamble with monsoons. As a result cropping pattern in the country is largely driven by the monsoonal patterns. River interlinking can provide a way out of the rain driven agricultural pattern by aiding crop diversification in following ways:

  • Assured irrigation will allow adoption to high yield variety seeds which was witnessed during green revolution.
  • Rainfed areas are cultivating low yield crops like jowar, bajra, Ragi etc. River interlinking will allow switching over to high yield crops like rice, wheat etc.
  • Assured irrigation due to river linking will also aid in horticulture expansion in the country. There can be expansion in cultivation of vegetable, fruit and other commercial crops like areca nut, Pomegranate, Sugarcane etc.
  • Lack of irrigation is resulting in tracts of land being left uncultivated in the regions of Deccan, Vidharba and central India. River Interlinking can aid in expansion of agriculture in these areas thus enhancing crop diversification.
  • Area under pulses can also be expanded as the pulse cultivation is currently concentrated in rainfed areas. Assured irrigation due to riverlinking will result in increased yield of pulses. Thus enhance more investments in pulses and in expansion of its area under cultivation.

River interlinking will provide with assured means of irrigation. There are examples which show how assured irrigation has resulted in crop diversification. Expansion of irrigation facilities due to multi-purpose projects along Cauvery, Krishna has brought drastic changes in cropping patterns. There are chances that interlinking of rivers may adversely affecting the crop diversity because:

  • Increase in the surface water may result in increase of salinity of soils.
  • Crops like millets may be less attractive resulting in reduced cultivation area.
  • Switching over to water intensive crops like rice, Sugarcane may result in monoculture and hence reduced crop diversification.

As government is attempting for increased productivity in the use of waters by promoting rivers interlinking care must be taken to ensure that crop diversification is not adversely affected. Planned agriculture by connecting labs with fields under the initiative of mera goan mera garv will assist in better utilization of the assured irrigation due to river interlinking.


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