ANNUAL INTERCROPS: AN ALTERNATIVE PATHWAY FOR SUSTAINABLE HORTICULTURAL PRODUCTIONAnop Kumari and Mahesh Choudhary
The greatest challenge to the agriculture in the years to come is to provide sufficient food to growing population in order to fight with hunger and malnutrition. We will have to feed more people with limited water resources, frequent droughts, degrading lands and difficult access to energy. Past strategy for development of the agricultural sector in India has focused primarily on raising agricultural output and improving food security. The Doubling Famerâs Income (DFI) strategy as recommended by the Committee include seven sources of income growth viz., improvement in crop productivity, increase in the cropping intensity, enhancement in livestock productivity, resource use efficiency, diversification towards high value crops, improvement in real prices received by farmers and shift from farm to non-farm occupations. Intercropping ensures efficient resource and space utilization including upgrading of soil and orchard nutrient status. So, intercropping has been employed with the main objective of proper utilization of resources under subsistence farming where the production of sufficient food grain is a great challenge. The outcomes of various intercropping practices confirm that vegetable and pulses crops are economically and ecologically most suitable and viable intercrops for fruit crops at early phase of growth. Once bearing starts, there is need of management of cultural practices adapted for intercrops with the requirements of fruit trees. So that productivity of fruit plants will not be decreased.