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Rainfed Farming Systems

Rainfed Farming Systems

The rainfed agro-ecologies cover about 60 per cent of the net sown area of 141 million hactare and are widely distributed in the country. Rainfed agriculture is practiced under a wide variety of soil types, agro-climatic and rainfall conditions. The distribution of rainfed areas can be broadly classified into arid, semiarid, dry-sub humid and humid regions. As per available estimates, 15 million hactare of rainfed crop area lies in the arid region which receives less than 500 mm annual rainfall, another 15 million hactare is in 500-750 mm annual rainfall zone, and 42 million hactare is in the 750-1100 mm rainfall zone. The remaining area lies in annual rainfall zone of greater than 1100 mm. Out of the 127 Agro Climatic Zones (ACZs) in India, 73 are predominantly rainfed. Rainfed agro-ecologies cover about 87% area of coarse cereals and pulses, 77% of oilseeds, 66% of cotton and 50% of cereals besides of mangoes and apples and about 100% of forests. Rainfed areas are home to majority of rural poor and marginal farmers and at the same time risk and distress prone.

The recent policy discourse, especially in the wake of the XIIth Five Year Plan, has increasingly emphasized the need forenhancing agriculture growth in rainfed areas that include dryland farming, by improving regeneration and sustainable use of natural resources, especially, land and ground water. The emphasis accorded to rainfed farming is through location specific package of practices and interventions to harness the potential of rainfed regions in the central and eastern states, and dryland regions in the western and southern states. The focus has been mainly on soil moisture conservation and rain water harvesting through integrated watershed development approach.

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Please note that this is the opinion of the author and is Not Certified by ICAR or any of its authorised agents.