Productive Efficiency Of Traditional Multiple Cropping Systems Compared To Monocultures Of Seven Crop Species: A Benchmark Study

By Dr. Debal DebonMar. 14, 2021in Food and Water
Image by Living Farms

This introduction is by Chandrashekhar Nemani, Revitalising Rainfed Agriculture network (

Despite the global trend of agricultural modernization, which promotes crop intensification and upscaling of monocultures of high yielding crop varieties (HYVs), traditional multiple cropping (MC) systems are still in vogue in numerous traditional farms in the global South, primarily maintained by a section of small and medium farmers (IAASTD 2009; La Via Campesina 2010; Panneerselvam et al. 2011; Singh et al. 2002). Traditional MC systems are common in countries with high amounts of subsistence agriculture and low amounts of agricultural mechanization, and is the most suitable for peasant farmers practising low-input farming on small parcels of land (Ngwira et al., 2012; Brooker et al. 2015). These small peasant farms, most of which are family farms, are replete with a wide diversity of crop species (including cereals, fruit trees, tuber plants, vines, herbs, and shrubs in some places), and a legion of vertebrate and invertebrate fauna, constitute an enormously complex ecosystem, and are good examples of agroecology to ensure food security of the poor (Singh et al. 2002; Deb 2020). Multiple cropping is a major component of the practice of agroecology, fostering a rich diversity of crops, both in terms of species and landraces.

One of the salient findings of this study may be described under three rubrics.

Firstly, this study corroborates the agroecological understanding that MC farms are generally more productive than monocultures. The results of our study suggests that the much-discussed “scale effect” of yield, associated with monocultures in modern agriculture may not be ubiquitously applicable. Rather, small MC farms may be considerably more productive than large monocultures – a fact that corroborates the emerging understanding that small indigenous farmers can ensure food security better than monocultures (GRAIN 2014). However, the degree of yield enhancement compared to monocultures varies with the combination of crops in the MC farm.

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Originally Published In Living Farms (
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