This is a traditional method of growing crops wherein 5,7,9 or 12 varieties (I think any number is ok, they somehow mentioned these:)) are planted together. It is a mixture of rice, maize, millets, daals and oil seeds. Apparently people in the mountains have small pieces of land and they grow crops in this fashion since it provides them with the different food items they need. It makes sense in the face of today’s volatile market to diversify. In case, the price of one of the items falls, the farmer does not go broke as he or she would if they were growing a single crop. With this kind of diversity, they also eat well. The plants are not all competing for the same nutrients and they complement each other in what they draw out of the soil. Pests don’t turn into epidemics since they do easily encounter another plant that they are infesting. The harvesting time of each crop is different, though they are sown at the same time. So the harvesting work is sort of spread out. This is good way to improve the fertility of the soil within a year. What would usually take about 3 years can be done in 1 since the plants support each other.
Too many positive aspects. There must be some problem with this set up, no? Well, harvesters will not work in this kind of a set up. And who needs harvesters on a small farm anyway. Small is beautiful, what else can I say! :)