Monday, August 10, 2009

It's all in the hands of the Rain God

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

India is today one of the fastest growing economies and of the most lucrative markets everybody wants to be in. But come every Monsoon we are reminded how backward we still as far as management of water resources is concerned. Just as the economy was showing signs of recovery the forecast of poor monsoon has made the stock market investment gloomy. We completely live at the mercy of the Rain God for our agriculture even after six decades of independence.

Agriculture as an industry provides direct or indirect employment to 65% of the working population buy this sector has been complete ignored in the last few decades. We have been carried away by terms Information Technology, Biotechnology, Manufacturing and Infrastructure Development. The results of this ignorance has been India has started re-importing basic food grains in the last few years after enjoying a decade of self sufficiency.

One major factor which has contributed to our poor growth in the agricultural sector has been the absence of proper irrigation facilities. Although we have sent numerous satellites up in the space and connected most parts of the county with optical fibre cable 70% of agriculture still depends on rain or literally put 70% of our agriculture is always left at chance. Every year some part or the other faces a bad monsoon causing poor harvest and in turn leading to farmer suicides.

India lies in one of the wettest belts in the world. Due to its proximity with the Himalayas India receives abundant amount of rainfall in the world. But most of this water flows into the ocean through our major rivers. Rain water harvesting and using it for irrigation in a lean season are almost unheard concepts in India. If that is not enough the irony is we have drought and floods happening at the same time in the country. The project to interlink rivers and share water resources to prevent floods and drought has been shelved defying logic.

It may surprise many but it has been three decades since the last Green Revolution happened and made states like Punjab prosperous for ever with proper irrigation and modern methods of farming. But since then no major project has been initiated by the government in the agricultural sector. It is a sad irony that most of our villages today have access to mobile phone but not proper irrigation facilities. A poor monsoon is the worst nightmare of an Indian farmer. We need another revolution for the agricultural sector but till then we need to keep praying to Rain God.


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