Farmers need irrigation more than poll freebies -Arjun Srinivas
Even as debt waivers and farmer-centric doles are announced to tide over farmers’ indebtedness, the level of investment in irrigation remains poor
Ahead of Lok Sabha elections, the spotlight has turned on the troubles faced by the farmer. But, even as debt waivers are announced to tide over one farm crisis—that of indebtedness—another crisis—of water scarcity—looms large. Over the past three months, five large states— Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka—have declared drought in parts of their states, and more such announcements could occur in the months ahead.
Less than half (48.8%) of India’s farm lands are irrigated. The rest are perennially dependent on the vagaries of the monsoon. The economic survey last year estimated that climate change could reduce annual agricultural incomes by 15-18% on average, and up to 20-25% for unirrigated areas over the long run .
Since 2014, investment in irrigation by state governments as well as the Union government has grown, driven by greater spending on irrigation projects in seven drought-hit states: Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan.
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