Cropping systems of Haryana – Challenges and opportunities
Haryana is bounded by the Shivalik Hills to the north, the Aravali Hills to the south, the Yamuna River to the east and the Thar desert to the west. The land slope is from north to south. The average topographic elevation is in the range of 700 to 950 feet above sea level. The state covers 1.4% (4.4 million hectares) of the country’s total geographical area. Nearly 70% of the population is engaged in agriculture. Haryana state, with its strategic fertile land, has a rich legacy of sustainable agricultural development, despite encountering many human-made and natural calamities over its long history. Its farmers have increased food grain production from 2.6 m tons in 1966–67 to 18.3 m tons in 2020–21. Increases in wheat and rice production during this period were eleven and sixteen-fold, respectively. Today, Haryana is self-sufficient in food production and the second largest contributor of food grains to the nation’s food basket. The predominant cropping systems practiced within the three ecologies of the state are the cotton–wheat cropping system (CWCS), pearl millet–mustard (PMCS) and rice–wheat (RWCS). In 2022, a landscape diagnostic survey (LDS) in parts of Sirsa and Hisar districts (for CWCS), Rewari and Mahendergarh districts(for PMCS) and Panipat, Yamunanagar and Kurukshetra districts (for RWCS) was initiatedunder the Rural Agricultural Work Experience (RAWE) programme. The twin objectives of this collaborative initiative were to (1) gain an understanding of the existing challenges and opportunities for these cropping systems in the region through a bottom-up approach, and (2) prepare students for a future career in agriculture by building their practical skills in digital agriculture and big data management. This publication documents the success of both these objectivesto a large extent. Data were collected from farming households by RAWE students using questionnaires, and thoroughly analysed using different analytical tools and techniques. Important data points about the region’s three crucial cropping systems have been recorded, using real-time data sourced directly from the farmers. Some of the data collectedindicated conditions beyond expectations, whilesome supported viewson emerging trends,and a few on the need for judicious system intervention. The survey has helped build student capacity to design and understand data collection methods and data analysis and management, combined with actual field exposure.Further, the qualitative data-gathering experience enabledstudent understanding of farmers’ perspectives when adopting or rejecting a particular technology or recommendation. Thispublication provides material for teaching, research,and extension. Many of the messages and lessons learned can be shared with research and extension streams in agricultural universities, with government extension divisions and Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) centres, and with the private sector. In the long run, this type of systems approach to building student capacity will encourage fieldwork and studies which support the development of solutions to tomorrow’s problems. Alongside this, the survey also marked GPS (geographical positioning system) coordinates which can be cross verified in future studies. In the short term, this publication will hopefully facilitate research and extension activities that address the concerns and desires of farming households, reflected in the discussions and conclusions sections of this publication. The entire design of this survey was based on farmers’ participatory engagement and the cropping system framework. The commitment of Haryana Agriculture University (HAU) to implementing a strong RAWE programme under the technical guidance of Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA), with support from district KVKs and student participation, has made this publication a powerful endorsement of and reference for similar RAWE programmes across the India’s states and centraluniversities.