Report: Policy brief on sorghum and pearl millet economy in India
More than 60% of the area in India is cultivated under arid and semi-arid conditions. Nevertheless these provide around 40% of the food production.
Farmers are exposed to harsh agro-climatic conditions, as they have to cultivate shallow and poor soils under drought prone conditions, receive low and erratic rainfall below 600 mm. Recurrent drought coupled with frequent dry spells further exacerbate the situation.
In the last few decades, these regions are facing a shrinking natural resource base and land degradation, resulting in low productivity in the crop and livestock sectors. This in turn is contributing to poverty, malnutrition and indebtedness of small holder farm families. More than 70% of the land holdings belong to small and marginal farmers, which is further shrinking due to extensive subdivision and fragmentation of holdings constraining mechanization and scale economies.
The resulting drudgery and impoverishment of farmers and farm women are apparent.
To make matters worse, excessive dependence on rice and wheat for food self-sufficiency has not only made food security fragile, but has also shrunken the diversity of the food basket.
In order to alleviate this problem and to make food more nutritional, healthy and affordable, coarse cereals like pearl millet and sorghum deserve to be promoted in the wake of climate change. That is why we have made the improvement of sorghum and millets, the promotion of its use and stimulation of the entire value-chain part of the ICRISAT-HOPE project’s core mission.
To highlight its importance in India, ICRISAT scientists N Nagaraj, G. Basavaraj and P. Parthasarathy Rao have now published a Policy brief on sorghum and pearl millet in the Indian economy.
You can download it here.
Picture courtesy ICRISAT.