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Agriculture Production & Rainfall: Myths Or Reality

It is clearly visible that agriculture production in India has not at all been on a serious decline over the years, despite low rainfalls

Photo Credit : Reuters


With many states facing continuous droughts like conditions from many decades and few of them have faced one of the worst droughts of the century like Tamilnadu, India is continuously termed as a nation where agriculture is completely dependent upon rain.  The financial year 2010, 2013 and 2015 had witnessed real below-average rainfall in India. Though as a matter of fact, Indian agriculture’s growth did not slow down, during any of the mentioned financial years.

It is observed that monsoon can’t be correlated to the food inflation, with over 40 per cent of food costs increases being explained by higher per capita income, rather than rainfall (Indian Society of Agriculture Economics and FAO).

It is clearly visible that agriculture production in India has not at all been on the serious decline over the years, despite low rainfalls. Delayed or deficient monsoon had not led to the disaster like situations on the food front. It may be an evident statement that earlier the Indian agriculture was totally dependent on the monsoon. In the case of food grains, it was very much true, but it was a time when farmers were less dependent on horticulture and livestock.

Annual precipitation levels in India are also higher than some of the other countries, for instance- France, China, Australia and US. Low rainfall clearly can’t be cited as a reason for low agricultural productivity in the nation. Countries like USA and China do have less precipitation level than us and they still enjoy a handsome part of world agricultural produce (FAO United Nations).

“Rainwater channelling to regular irrigation system”, this may be a focus area of all the developing and developed nations says a report by World Bank. Despite the lower rainfall, a better irrigation to agricultural land can be maintained and this is the focus area of most of the projects financed by World Bank says the same report.

Till 1951 irrigated agricultural area in India was only 23 million hectares (Centre for Environment and Agriculture). It now exceeds 70 million hectares, making the nation number one if irrigated area is a factor of classification. Another point is that top food grain (wheat in this case) and horticulture products are well irrigated hence absorb the shock of poor monsoon in a much better way. For instance, wheat is highly irrigated with some 70 per cent of wheat land under irrigation (Ministry of Agriculture). Around 59 per cent of rice and paddy fields are also irrigated. 

Most of the top horticulture crops are irrigated in a far better way. Improvement in irrigation services can’t be ruled out as well, which allows a less dependency on rainfall. With multiple technology exchange treaties with countries like Netherland and Israel for water conservation, India’s dependency on monsoon can only reduce in future.

Tags assigned to this article:
agriculture rainfall monsoon food grains