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Is Indian agriculture becoming resilient to droughts? Evidence from rice production systems

Birthal, Pratap S., Negi, Digvijay S., Khan, Md. Tajuddin, Agarwal, Shaily
Food policy 2015 v.56 pp. 1-12
coping strategies, cultivars, drought, farmers, grain yield, irrigation, production technology, rainfed farming, rice, India
Drought is one of the major constraints to sustainable improvement of agricultural productivity in the rainfed farming systems. In this paper, we have examined the frequency, severity and spread of droughts in India, and assessed their impact on rice production. Our results show that one-third of the rice area in India is affected by droughts, mostly moderate droughts, the frequency of which has increased in recent years. The severity of droughts, however, has reduced. An assessment of their impact reveals a decline in drought-induced losses in rice yield, in absolute as well as relative terms. The weakening effect of droughts is attributed to improvements in farmers’ adaptive capacity due to expansion of irrigation facilities and increased availability of improved varieties for the rainfed production systems, along with other coping strategies.