NRAA Proposes A Policy To Accelerate the Growth of Rainfed Agriculture : Daily Current Affairs

Relevance: GS-3: Major Crops - Cropping Patterns in various parts of the country, - Different Types of Irrigation and Irrigation Systems

Key Phrases: National Rainfed Area Authority (NRAA), Rainfed agriculture, Climate-resilient varieties, Water use efficiency, Improving infrastructure and organizations, National level committee, Integrated farming, and livelihood system.

Why in News?

  • The National Rainfed Area Authority (NRAA), under the Ministry of Agriculture, has proposed a new policy for accelerating the growth of rainfed agriculture through a comprehensive approach to combating climate change, securing livelihoods, and improving nutrition.
  • Reviving millet-based cropping systems, releasing new climate-resilient varieties, improving water use efficiency, and encouraging allied Agri-activities are among several measures being proposed as per the draft policy.

Do you know?

  • The National Rainfed Area Authority (NRAA) was formed in 2006 as an expert body of the Ministry of Agriculture to provide “knowledge inputs regarding the systematic upgradation and management of the country’s dryland and rainfed agriculture.”
  • The NRAA has a two-tier structure. The first tier is the Governing Board which provides the necessary leadership and appropriate coordination in the implementation of programs.
  • The Governing Board is chaired by Union Agriculture Minister and co-chaired by the Union Minister of Rural Development.
  • The second tier is the Executive Committee consisting of technical experts and representatives from stakeholder Ministries.
  • The Executive Committee is headed by a full-time Chief Executive Officer who should be a recognized expert on the subject. The CEO will be supported by five full-time technical experts.

Significance of Rainfed agriculture:

  • Rainfed agriculture accounts for 55 percent of the net sown area of 139.42 million hectares and supports about 61 percent of the farmers in the country.
  • Rainfed agriculture contributes to around 40 percent of the total foodgrain production.
  • About 85 percent of Nutri-cereals, 83 percent of pulses, 70 percent of oilseeds, and 65 percent of cotton are grown in rainfed conditions.
  • Rain-dependent agriculture supports two-thirds of livestock and 40 percent of the human population.

Issues with Rainfed Agriculture:

  • India ranks first among the rainfed countries in the world in terms of the extent of the rainfed area but ranks among the lowest in rainfed yields (<1tonne/hectare).
  • Rainfed areas are characterized by water scarcity, fragile environments, and drought conditions.
  • These unfavourable conditions result in low productivity, low cropping intensity, high cost of cultivation, poor adoption of modern technology, uncertainty in output, inadequate institutional credit & public investment, and high incidence of rural poverty.
  • Schemes and programs in rainfed regions follow a blanket approach, neglecting region-specific natural resource endowment, Agro-climatic conditions, and topography.
  • Rainfed areas seem to have received lower preference due to the perceived nature of these areas being drought-prone, riskier, and low in overall yields.
  • Climate change and climate variability impact Indian agriculture and more so rainfed agriculture. Long-term data for India indicate, that rainfed areas experience 3 to 4 drought years per decade
  • Other issues include:
    • Resource-poor farmers and inadequate credit availability
    • Poor market linkages
    • Land degradation and poor productivity
    • Poor productivity of livestock
    • No reliable data for rainfed in central database systems

Measures proposed in the policy:

  • Integrated farming and livelihood system:
    • Among the measures proposed in the policy include improving cropping systems and practices in rainfed agriculture, promoting integrated farming systems and integrated livelihood systems, improving farm power and mechanizations, besides promoting efficient natural resource management in rain-fed agriculture and measures to minimize soil degradation and restoring/rehabilitating degraded soils.
  • Enhance Investment:
    • The proposed policy has also called for measures to enhance the farmers' investment ability and financial security by improving the institutional credit availability and introducing comprehensive insurance and weather-based instruments for rainfed farmers.
  • Encouraging allied Agri-activities:
    • It also suggests encouraging allied Agri-activities besides establishing bio-economy in rainfed regions through promotion of secondary agriculture activity.
  • Improving infrastructure and organizations:
    • It also emphasizes improving infrastructure and organizations enhance farmers’ capacity to capture value, encourage private sector investment in rainfed regions and promote sustainable practices.
  • Improving the knowledge transfer:
    • The policy also calls for improving the knowledge transfer in rainfed regions, strengthening extension services, leveraging information and communication technology, creating data monitoring, management, and analytics infrastructure for effective decision making besides creating an institutional framework for accelerating the accelerated growth in rain-fed agriculture.
  • Need for closely associated interventions and programs of other sectors:
    • As the comprehensive development of rainfed areas is not limited to agriculture and allied sectors alone, the policy also stresses the need for closely associated interventions and programs of other sectors such as Water Resources, Rural Development, Panchayat Raj, Tribal Welfare, Environment, and Forests, Science and Technology, Medium and Small-Scale Enterprises, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Energy and Power, Skill Development, NITI Aayog among others.
  • National level committee:
    • Further, for proper coordination and a cohesive development approach, the policy has suggested the creation of a national-level committee consisting of officials from various ministries and agencies such as NRAA NABARD, NCDC, and SFAC among others.


  • A robust policy and a structured framework for public investments would bring about an agricultural regeneration of rainfed areas resulting in multiple social co-benefits such as the growth of agricultural income and generation of rural employment as well as reduction of poverty and malnutrition.

Source: The Hindu BL

Mains Question:

Q. What are the issues and challenges for rainfed agriculture in India? How can the recently drafted policy help accelerate the growth of rainfed agriculture? Discuss.