Fed by rain

  • 30/07/2007

India's rainfed areas are agriculture intensive: 85 per cent of employed people in these areas are engaged in agriculture. Consisting mostly of arid and semi-arid areas and the countrys 200 backward districts, rainfed states are concentrated in 13 states.

It's rainfed, anyway

The graph below shows that there has been a decline in the net rainfed area and an increase in the net irrigated area from 1994-2003. The increase has been due to a sharp rise in use of tube wells and wells, which source their water from groundwater, which in turn depends on rain. And are hence rainfed.

Crop diversification Production and productivity of rainfed crops have shown much decline after 1995. Growth in production was found to be significant (2.17 per cent) in rainfed regions along with higher productivity (1.91 per cent) during 1981-1990.However, significant growth observed during 1980s did not sustain in the 1990s, marking a steep fall of 3.07 per cent. The growth during the 1980s was mostly due to the unprecedented growth in oil seed production post technology mission. Post 1990, the area expansion declined and accompanied by less yield gains plateauing the growth rate in rainfed regions to less than 1 per cent. The closing of the oilseed technology mission in 1995 preceded this.

Farewell to farming Environmental degradation, reducing land holdings size, decline in agricultural productionpeople are deserting farming. Dominantly rainfed states like Rajasthan have registered a dramatic increase in the shift from farm to non-farm employment from a mere 19.3 per cent in 1983 to 32.7 per cent in 2000 with a higher dependence on wage income. The table below shows the share of non-agricultural employment of male workers in rural areas of select rainfed dominant states

Growth rate in rainfed regions

The rainfed regions did have their tryst with higher growth rates before the 1990s. Favourable growth rates extended to both the irrigated areas and the rainfed areas, with the latter experiencing growth rates of 3.62 per cent in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

In the decade after 1995 till 2004-05, the overall growth rate of agricultural productivity declined. The irrigated states witnessed stagnation or very marginal growth as compared to the previous decade. In contrast, the rainfed regions witnessed negative or zero growth. States like Kerala showed sharp deceleration of growth in agriculture during 2004-05 as compared to the period before 1995

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