Agricultural Transformation in West Bengal


Recently, West Bengal’s agricultural landscape has undergone a notable shift towards crop diversification.

  • It involves farmers transitioning from traditional wheat cultivation to alternative crops like bananas, lentils, and maize.

GS-03 (Agriculture) GS-01 (Food Security)

Key Highlights:

  • The outbreak of wheat blast disease in Bangladesh in 2016 prompted a ban on wheat cultivation in border areas of West Bengal. This compelled farmers to explore alternative crops.
  • Farmers have recognized the economic benefits of cultivating alternative crops like bananas, which offer higher profitability compared to wheat. Additionally, concerns over stagnant wheat prices and water consumption have contributed to this shift.
  • Crop diversification, the practice of growing a variety of crops instead of focusing on a single crop, is crucial for promoting sustainable agriculture in India.

Benefits of Crop Diversification:

  • Planting diverse crops can enhance soil health, particularly through nitrogen-fixing leguminous crops.
  • Diversification allows farmers to tap into niche markets or emerging trends, such as the demand for organic produce.
  • It helps mitigate risks associated with drought or other adverse conditions by ensuring some level of harvest.
  • Certain crops have the potential to be used as biofuel sources, offering additional income opportunities.
  • Intercropping can naturally manage pests and diseases, reducing reliance on chemical pesticides.

Government Initiatives:

  • To address these challenges, the government has implemented initiatives like-
    • Crop Diversification Programme (CDP) under the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY).
    • Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH)
    • The Mera Pani-Meri Virasat Scheme in Haryana.
  • These initiatives aim to incentivize farmers to diversify crops and provide support for the transition.