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India’s agrarian distress: A paradigm shift

Updated Sep 25, 2020
India faces an unprecedented water shortage. A prime reason for this is inapt incentive structure to use water in agriculture that already consumes 89 per cent of the available groundwater. Historically, governments have introduced policy incentives like free-electricity for agriculture to extract groundwater, highly subsidised canal water and cultivation of water-intensive and fertiliser-favoured crops like paddy, wheat and sugarcane, even in water-scarce areas like Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. This has resulted in accumulation of more than required reserve stocks of rice, wheat and sugar at the cost of short supplies of pulses and oilseeds and depleting groundwater. However, in recent years there have been some changes in the approach of both Union and state governments towards low-water consuming crops like pulses and oilseeds. There has been an increasing recognition of the fact that paddy consumes over 10 times more water than pulses and oilseeds that require just 500 ...
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