Short essay on Intensifying Agricultural Productivity

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Introduction of land reforms, just and equitable distribution, and scientifically managed high productivity sustainable agriculture could go a long way to remove the pressure of over-exploitation from forested wild land. If the people living in the locality are provided with viable alternatives for their needs, natural systems shall no longer be subjected to frequent encroachments.

The Malaysian experience of Jenka Triangle has demonstrated that well managed tree crops could provide an attractive alternative for settled farmers and help them to reduce dependence on shifting agriculture. Such tree plantations also protect soil and water resources.

A well chalked out plan for the region was started in 1960 which demarkated available land for these plantations and set aside nearly 60% of the area as forest reserve. After 20 years, the village area and the forest land has remained relatively stable and the wild habitat enjoys freedom from persistent pilferage and encroachments (FAO/IJNEP Report 1981).

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A high priority area in future is more intensive research and trial of new technology for sustainable agriculture on soils which are poor in nutrients and on which much of our biologically significant habitats occur. The system of growing crops interspersed with leguminous plants which has promise of reducing dependence on fertilizers and zero tillage technology which is helpful in retention of organic matter in the soil are some of the approaches which may be tried in future.

It is only a very small number of plant species which man has been using as food crops. There are a number of plants which can also serve as source of food for mankind. However, their potential as food plants has not yet been properly explored. A little diversification of food habits so that these plants may be used as a food source shall be helpful to widen the range of food crops available for indegenous consumption.

The winged bean Psophocarpus tetragonolobus, for example, has been known for centuries to the indegenous tribes of New Guinea which use it as food. It has now been shown that the plant is nutritionally as valuable as Soyabean with 40% proteins and 17% edible oils. The plant is now being cultivated in nearly 50 developing countries for use as food supplement.

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