Why Rainfed


ainfed Agriculture in India is characterized by marginal soils, undulating terrain, uncertainties of rains, poor access to credits and markets. According to Agricultural Census 2010-11, more than half (55%) of the country’s Gross Cropped Area (GCA) is rainfed which is also the poverty landscape of the country as 84 % of rural poor lives here.


106 million hectares are rainfed in India

Rainfed areas are significant in SCALE, PRODUCTION and LIVELIHOOD IMPACT

61% of India's Farmers rely on Rainfed Agriculture
55 % of gross cropped area is rainfed in India

Rainfed area, though it has been neglected in terms of PUBLIC INVESTMENT, contributes

40% Rice
89% Millets
73% cotton
69% oilseed
88% pulses

Having contributed significantly towards food grain production in the country, Rainfed Agriculture is more ecologically sustainable as it nurture diverse cropping system and integrated with livestock and fisheries, therefore, has potentiality to ensure food and nutritional securities among the vast extent of population in rural areas.

The very design of agriculture policies and programs excludes much of the rainfed areas or where it is successful, extends the logic of intensive irrigation based systems to rainfed contexts Larger scale conversion of households in traditional rainfed areas from consumption of millets to rice/ wheat aided by public procurement and subsidized distribution of rice/ wheat through PDS - is a striking example of this anomaly.

Inspite of obvious anamolies, substantial public investments promote intensive use of chemical fertilizers, hybrid seeds, pesticides and other inputs and price support system for paddy and wheat in rainfed areas.

However, rainfed agriculture has been left out of mainstream agricultural development, as substantial public investments have gone into promoting irrigated agriculture with intensive use of chemical fertilizers, hybrid seeds, pesticides and other inputs and price support system for paddy and wheat.

During 2003-04 to 2012-13, the government spent INR 540,000 crores on the procurement of rice and wheat while INR 3,200 crores was spent on the procurement of coarse cereals such as millets.

Rainfed areas provide livelihood basis for millions of people and have geographically entrenched poverty. The natural resource base in these areas is fragile. Rainfed areas have varying and often low soil depths coupled with poor quality with undulations. Highly variable rainfall patterns and aquifers that may not sustain intensive exploitation are common feature of rainfed. They are also home to diverse extensive livestock systems well adapted to fluxes in fodder availability, numerous water bodies with varying seasonality of filling, diverse crop systems that integrate livestock systems and variability. Household consumption patterns are also diverse ranging from millets, pulses, meat so on and so forth.

To tap the POTENTIAL and to achieve INCLUSIVE GROWTH in rainfed agriculture, India needs

  • Differential POLICIES for rainfed agriculture including livestock and fisheries
  • Substantial scaling up of PUBLIC INVESTMENTS for revitalizing rainfed agriculture
  • Appropriate framework for public investments- rooted in a PARADIGM RELEVANT for rainfed farmers
  • Revitalizing Rainfed Agriculture Network (RRAN) aims to evolve appropriate policies that cater needs of rainfed farmers. Rainfed Atlas of India (PDF)