Agricultural practices in a drought-prone region of India: opportunities for S&T innovations

Publication Date07 October 2019
Date07 October 2019
AuthorVenkatesh Dutta,Manoj Vimal,Sonvir Singh,Rana Pratap Singh
SubjectPublic policy & environmental management,Environmental technology & innovation
Agricultural practices in a
drought-prone region of India:
opportunities for S&T innovations
Venkatesh Dutta, Manoj Vimal, Sonvir Singh and Rana Pratap Singh
DST Centre for Policy Research,
Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University, Lucknow, India
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to assess the agricultural practices ina drought-prone region of India
in an effort to find out how science, technology and innovation (STI) measures can address the existing
problems and help achieve sustainable solutions. This study has been planned with two specific objectives: to
study the agricultural practices of small and marginal-holding farmers in a drought-prone region and to
examine the opportunities for suitable interventions to mitigate the impacts of droughts. The study is based
on primary survey conducted in Banda district of Bundelkhand region, Uttar Pradesh, India.
Design/methodology/approach Empirical survey was done in eight different blocks of a drought-prone
region of India using structured questionnaire. The questionnaire was pre-tested with a group of 12 farmers
during a workshop through a pilot survey conducted during April 2017. Stratified sampling based on land
holdings (small farmers having 12 ha of land, medium farmers having 2.15 ha of land and large farmers
having more than 5 ha of land) and irrigation types (canals and tube wells) were utilised in different blocks of
the district for selecting farmers in the surveyed villages.
Findings Findings suggest that due to various reasons like change in climatic conditions, frequent crop
failure, crop diseases and high cost of production, farmers have adopted certain crops which are not suited to
their agro-climatic conditions. The paper recommends that farmers school or on-farm training schoolhave
to be initiated to integrate farmerstraditional knowledge with modern knowledge systems with
amalgamation of STI tools.
Research limitations/implications Uttar Pradesh is divided into nine agro-climatic zones; however, this
study is focused on Bundelkhand and may be region specific, though the findings are important for other
drought-prone areas.
Practical implications The paper links the existing agricultural practices and further linking them with
farmerssocio-economic, cultural and environmental settings. Only 17.5 per cent of respondents owned any
agricultural equipment due to high cost of farm tools, difficulty in taking equipements on rental basis and
lack of sharing tools among the farmers.
Social implications This paper targets small and marginal farmers in the drought-prone region of India
who face the dual shock of climate impacts and poverty. Adoption of modern agricultural practices and use of
technology is inadequate which is further hampered by ignorance of such practices, high costs and
impracticality in the case of small land holdings.
Originality/value This paper has advocated for well-organised, efficient and result-oriented STI system to
mitigate the adverse impacts of drought-prone agriculture. Farming community in drough-prone areas needs
adequate investment, local-specific technology, better quality inputs, real-time information on weather and
most importantly latest know-how for sustaining commercial and cost effective sustainable agriculture.
Keywords Policy, Technology, STI, Agricultural management, Precision irrigation
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
The socio-economic and cultural lives of the people of India for centuries have tremendously
been shaped by agriculture that continues to be central to all strategies for planned
socio-economic development of the country (Gupta, 2019; NAP, 2017). With production of
World Journal of Science,
Technology and Sustainable
Vol. 16 No. 4, 2019
pp. 208-226
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/WJSTSD-04-2018-0019
Received 3 April 2018
Revised 30 May 2019
Accepted 24 June 2019
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Support received from Policy Research Cell of Department of Science and Technology (DST), Govt. of
India is greatly acknowledged. The paper is based on a project titled STI for Inclusive Growthcarried
out at DST Centre for Policy Research, Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University, Lucknow. All the
authors contributed equally to this work.
agriculture activity of about $375.61bn, India is among the major producers of agriculture
product accounting for 7.39 per cent of the total global agricultural output. However, the
contribution of agriculture has reduced significantly in total gross domestic product (GDP)
over the years. Agriculture and allied sectors shared 17.9 per cent of Indias GDP in 2014
that further declined to 14.39 per cent during 2018. Service sector contributes most with
57.9 per cent followed by industry (24.2 per cent) (GoI, 2018; Planning Commission, 2014).
Though with decline in its contribution in Indias GDP over the years, agriculture with its
allied sectors unquestionably is still the largest livelihood partner in India (FAO, 2018; NPI,
2017). As per the 2017 data, about 54.6 per cent of Indias population is engaged in
agriculture and allied activities (DACFW, 2017), and out of this, 82 per cent of farmers are
small and marginal (FAO, 2018). According to India Economic Survey of 2018, the
percentage of agricultural workers of total work force would drop to 25.7 per cent by 2050
from 58.2 per cent in 2001 (GoI, 2018). Though India has experienced continuous decline
over the years in this sector, agriculture still acts as a foundation on which Indias economy
rests. Most of the rural households derive their livelihood from this sector. Indian agriculture
and allied activities have witnessed a green revolution that increased agricultural
production during 1960s, a white revolution that transformed India into worlds largest milk
producer, a yellow revolution that increased the production of edible oils and a blue
revolution made remarkable emergence of aquaculture (NPI, 2017).
There is a diverse pattern of farming in India that is governed by agro-climatic
conditions, farm size, input prices, profit margin and government policies. Due to large
dependency on rainfed irrigation, the agriculture sector in India registered significantly
higher growth in 20162017 than the previous two years due to normal monsoon (GoI, 2018).
Climate change, abrupt land-use modifications and degradation of natural resource have
aggravated drought occurrences and vulnerability, thus disrupting the normal socio-
economic settings in semi-arid and arid regions of the country (Kundu et al., 2015; Gupta
et al., 2011). The drought and resultant agrarian crisis during 19651967 led to green
revolutionin India. However, the success was limited to few states only where irrigation
facility was developed over the years. Many of the drought affected regions still struggling
to cope with the recurrent dry weather. About 13 states have been repeatedly declared as
drought-prone where consecutive deficient rainfall has resulted in drought-related
deprivation and conflicts such as crop failure, drying up ecosystems and shortage of
fodder and drinking water. Adoption of modern agricultural practices and use of technology
is inadequate that is further hampered by ignorance of such practices, high costs and
impracticality in the case of small land holdings.
Understanding the agricultural practices in a drought-prone region of India and
opportunities for science, technology and innovation (STI) is an important issue and
relevant for the policy makers for formulating appropriate policies for the country. There
have been studies on farming community in drought-prone regions, and some agreed that
small-holding farmers have local knowledge and their agricultural practices seem to be less
harmful to the environment and more adaptive to local climatic issues. Dry regions in India
include about 94 mha with one-third of Indias population (about 300m people). It is also
observed that more than 50 per cent of the region is affected by drought once every four
years (Gupta et al., 2011; UN, 1990). Planners have repeatedly failed to undertake an
ecosystem approach for drought management. Most of the measures were short-term
strategies that did not address improper agriculture practices and poor water management.
Indias STI Policy released in 2013 emphasises on the need of science-based solutions to
such problems by intervention of STI measures. The agriculture sector has got special
priority in the STI Policy 2013. It also aims to integrate agriculture research and
development (R&D) that is articulated by Indian Council for Agriculture Research with that
of national R&D (STIP, 2013).
practices in a

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