Policy Brief

Rainfed agriculture: for an inclusive, sustainable and food secure India

  • Rainfed agriculture for an inclusive, sustainable and food

India is increasingly focusing on its rainfed areas due to demand for food and nutrition security, and escalating farmer distress. But agricultural policy paralysis has meant that the familiar, external input-intensive, technological approaches of the Green Revolution are to be transferred to these rainfed areas – despite their diverse and highly integrated production systems that are better adapted to climatic variability. A new macro policy that articulates for decentralised, location-specific, integrated approaches in its rainfed areas is necessary for agriculture to be inclusive, climate-resilient and sustainable, and to provide the food and nutritional security that India needs.

Reviving Knowledge: India's Rainfed Farming, Variability and Diversity

  • Reviving knowledge - India's rainfed farming, variability

More than two thirds of India’s arable land is under rainfed farming. Local and national authorities, public sector agricultural research and extension, and commercial ventures are designed to supply ‘one-size-fits-all’ technologies, inputs and advice through uniform administrative apparatus or market protocols. This approach limits their capacity to work with the diversity and variability of rainfed agriculture. But with support that complements the variable nature of rainfed farming tracts, communities can improve farm productivity and sustainability. We present the case study of a farming community reclaiming its knowledge of variability through the revival of mixed cropping and millet production. We argue that decentralised support, with public investments appropriate to each agro-ecological system, is necessary for more communities to follow this lead.