India’s Independence was won in the backdrop of the great Bengal famine of 1942-43. No wonder, our first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru said early in 1948, everything else can wait but not agriculture. Thanks to the packages of technology, services and public policies introduced since the beginning of the first Five Year Plan in 1950, the country has transformed itself from a ‘begging bowl’ image to one which occupies the first or second position in terms of production and area in several major crops.
We also occupy the first position in milk production globally. India ranks second in fish culture and third in capture fisheries. We have been able to build substantial buffer stocks of food grains, in spite of increasing demand due to rising population the per capita food grain availability has also increased by one and half times.
Rainfed areas in India are highly diverse, ranging from resource rich areas to resource-constrained areas. Some of the resource rich areas are highly productive and have experienced widespread adoption of technology. However, most of the areas are resource constrained and dry areas. In the resource constrained and dry areas, the farming is a survival mechanism rather than a growth oriented activity.
Rainfed agriculture is practiced under a wide variety of soil type, agro-climatic and rainfall conditions ranging from 400 mm to 1600 mm per annum. Rainfed Crops are prone to breaks in the monsoon during the crop growth due to water stress. This water stress may be due to variability of rainfall, delay in sowing, diversity in crop management practice and variability of the soil type. The prolonged breaks can result in partial or complete failure of the crops.