Shifts in Cropping System and Its Effect on Human Nutrition: Case Study from India

  • Kataki P
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Abstract

SUMMARY More than twenty cropping systems are practiced in India. Rice-wheat and rice-rice are the major cropping systems practiced in an estimated 120 districts and 50 districts of the country, respectively. The rice-wheat cropping system (RWCS) of the Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP) region of South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan) is the creation of the agricultural green revolution. Higher production of rice and wheat was necessary to meet the calorie needs of an increasing population in this region; as a result, the percent of malnutrition amongst children and adults decreased during the green revolution era. However, in recent years, there has been a reduction in both the rate of malnutrition decline and of the partial and total factor productivity of the RWCS in India. One of the many reasons for the decreased rate of malnutrition decline is micronutrient deficiency. Malnutrition amongst children and adults is a silent emergency in South Asia, including India. This review compares the food consumption habits, nutritional status, and cropping system practiced for different states of India to provide reasons for shifting the rice-wheat cropping system through crop diversification. Diversification of the RWCS will increase the supply of legumes and vegetables, help to diversify the diets consumed, and increase micronutrient intake. This approach is important for a largely vegetarian population of India, and is therefore, considered to be one of several important Food Systems strategy to address the silent emergency of malnutrition in the region.
SUMMARY More than twenty cropping systems are practiced in India. Rice-wheat and rice-rice are the major cropping systems practiced in an estimated 120 districts and 50 districts of the country, respectively. The rice-wheat cropping system (RWCS) of the Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP) region of South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan) is the creation of the agricultural green revolution. Higher production of rice and wheat was necessary to meet the calorie needs of an increasing population in this region; as a result, the percent of malnutrition amongst children and adults decreased during the green revolution era. However, in recent years, there has been a reduction in both the rate of malnutrition decline and of the partial and total factor productivity of the RWCS in India. One of the many reasons for the decreased rate of malnutrition decline is micronutrient deficiency. Malnutrition amongst children and adults is a silent emergency in South Asia, including India. This review compares the food consumption habits, nutritional status, and cropping system practiced for different states of India to provide reasons for shifting the rice-wheat cropping system through crop diversification. Diversification of the RWCS will increase the supply of legumes and vegetables, help to diversify the diets consumed, and increase micronutrient intake. This approach is important for a largely vegetarian population of India, and is therefore, considered to be one of several important Food Systems strategy to address the silent emergency of malnutrition in the region.

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Authors

  • P. K. Kataki

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