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Drought or no drought, farm sector adapts to low rainfall

Last modified January 13, 2016 14:36

Business Standard. New Delhi, 11 January 2016.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) might have decided to drop the use of the word “drought” from its nomenclature, but even if it had not done so, it would have hardly made a difference. Studies show that Indian agriculture has, over the years, developed an inherent resistance to drought. The share of agriculture in the overall economy may have fallen, but the proportion of the non-crop sector in the total farm gross domestic product (GDP) has gone up. In the second quarter of 2015-16, despite two consecutive years of deficient rains, farm growth was positive, owing to greater production in the livestock, forestry and fisheries sectors. Agriculture and allied activities recorded a marginal increase in the growth rate at 2.2 per cent for the second quarter of 2015-16 (July to September) as compared to the same period last year. The agriculture and allied sectors grew at 2.1 per cent in the July-September quarter of 2014-15 and were expected to perform poorly this year due to droughts in several parts of the country. On a quarter-on-quarter basis, too, the agriculture and allied sectors grew from 1.9 per cent in the April-June quarter to 2.2 in the July-September quarter. A recent study by India Ratings and the National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research (NCAP) showed that the correlation between the kharif food grain output and the June-September rains declined to 0.3 between 2004-05 and 2013-14 as compared to 0.6 between 1996-97 and 2003-04, which indicates the increased resilience of Indian agriculture to absorb the deficiency in the monsoon.

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