Food Security

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 19–33 | Cite as

The relative importance of drought and other water-related constraints for major food crops in South Asian farming systems

  • Xiaoyun Li
  • Stephen R. Waddington
  • John Dixon
  • Arun K. Joshi
  • M. Carmen de Vicente
Original Paper

Abstract

Variation in water availability is a major source of risk for agricultural productivity and food security in South Asia. Three hundred and thirty expert informants were surveyed during 2008-09 to determine the relative importance of drought and water-related constraints compared with other constraints limiting the production of four major food crops (wheat, rice, sorghum, chickpea) in five broad-based South Asian farming systems. Respondents considered drought an important constraint to crop yield in those farming systems that are predominantly rainfed, but associated it with low yield losses (well below 10% of all reported losses) for crops in farming systems with well-developed irrigation. In these systems, other water-related constraints (including difficult access to sufficient irrigation water, the high cost of irrigation, poor water management, waterlogging and flooding of low-lying fields) were more important. While confirming the importance of drought and water constraints for major food crops and farming systems in South Asia, this study also indicated they may contribute to no more than 20–30% of current yield gaps. Other types of constraint, particularly soil infertility and the poor management of fertilizer and weeds for the cereals, and pests and diseases for chickpea, contributed most yield losses in the systems. Respondents proposed a wide range of interventions to address these constraints. Continued investments in crop-based genetic solutions to alleviate drought may be justified for food crops grown in those South Asian farming systems that are predominantly rainfed. However, to provide the substantial production, sustainability and food security benefits that the region will need in coming decades, the study proposed that these be complemented by other water interventions, and by improvements to soil fertility for the cereals and plant protection with chickpea.

Keywords

Crop production constraints Drought Water use and management Production solutions Food crops Farming systems South Asia 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank the 330 expert panelists that responded to the questionnaires for South Asia for the information and opinions they provided. This work was funded by Sub-Programme 5 (Capacity Building and Enabling Delivery) of the CGIAR Generation Challenge Programme.

References

  1. Acharya, S. S. (1997). Agricultural price policy and development: some facts and emerging issues. Indian Journal of Agricultural Economics, 52, 40–47.Google Scholar
  2. Aggarwal, P. K., Joshi, P. K., Ingram, J. S. I., & Gupta, R. K. (2004). Adapting food systems of the Indo-Gangetic plains to global environmental change: key information needs to improve policy formulation. Environmental Science & Policy, 7(6), 487–498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ali, M. H., & Talukder, M. S. U. (2008). Increasing water productivity in crop production—a synthesis. Agricultural Water Management, 95, 1201–1213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ali, M. Y., Waddington, S. R., Timsina, J., Hodson, D., & Dixon, J. (2009). Maize-rice cropping systems in Bangladesh: status and research needs. Journal of Agriculture, Science and Technology, United States of America, 3(6), 35–53.Google Scholar
  5. Battisti, D. S., & Naylor, R. L. (2009). Historical warnings of future food insecurity with unprecedented seasonal heat. Science, 323, 240–244.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Borlaug, N., & Dowswell, C. (2000). Agriculture in the 21st century: vision for research and development. AgBioWorld. http://www.agbioworld.org/biotechinfo/topics/borlaug/agriculture.html Accessed August 2010
  7. Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture (CAWMA). (2007). Water for food, water for life: A comprehensive assessment of water management in agriculture. Earthscan, London, UK and International Water Management Institute, Colombo, Sri Lanka.Google Scholar
  8. Dalkey, N. C. (1969). The Delphi method: An experimental study of group opinion (p. 79). Santa Monica CA: The Rand Corporation.Google Scholar
  9. de Fraiture, C., Molden, D., & Wichelnsa, D. (2010). Investing in water for food, ecosystems, and livelihoods: an overview of the comprehensive assessment of water management in agriculture. Agricultural Water Management, 97, 495–501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Directorate of Wheat Research. (2007). Project director’s report: 2007-08. Mishra B, Project Director, Directorate of Wheat Research, Karnal 132001, India, pp. 29.Google Scholar
  11. Dixon, J., Gulliver, A., & Gibbon, D. (2001). Farming systems and poverty: improving farmers’ livelihoods in a changing world (p. 412). Washington DC: FAO, Rome and World Bank.Google Scholar
  12. Duxbury, J. M. (2001). Long-term yield trends in the rice–wheat cropping system: results from experiments and Northwest India. Journal of Crop Production, 3(2), 27–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Erenstein, O. (2009). Comparing water management in rice–wheat production systems in Haryana, India and Punjab, Pakistan. Agricultural Water Management, 96, 1799–1806.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Erenstein, O. (2010). A comparative analysis of rice–wheat systems in Indian Haryana and Pakistan Punjab. Land Use Policy, 27(3), 869–879.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Evenson, R. E., Herdt, R. W., & Hossain, M. (1996). Priorities for rice research: Introduction. In R. E. Evenson, R. W. Herdt, & M. Hossain (Eds.), Rice research in asia: Progress and priorities (pp. 3–15). Wallingford: CAB International in association with the International Rice Research Institute.Google Scholar
  16. FAO. (2009). Water scarcity. http://www.fao.org/nr/water/topics_scarcity.html Accessed September 2010
  17. Gulati, A., & Narayanan, S. (2003). The subsidy syndrome in Indian agriculture. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Gulati, A., Shah, T., & Shreedhar, G. (2009). Agriculture performance in Gujarat since 2000: Can Gujarat be a ‘Divadandi’ (lighthouse) for other states? New Delhi: IWMI and IFPRI.Google Scholar
  19. Hyman, G., Fujisaka, S., Jones, P., Wood, S., de Vicente, M. C., & Dixon, J. (2008). Strategic approaches to targeting technology generation: assessing the coincidence of poverty and drought-prone crop production. Agricultural Systems, 98, 50–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Joshi, A. K., Mishra, B., Chatrath, R., Ortiz-Ferrara, G., & Singh, R. P. (2007). Wheat improvement in India: present status, emerging challenges and future prospects. Euphytica, 157, 431–446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kataki, P. K., Hobbs, P. R., & Adhikary, B. (2001). The rice-wheat cropping system of South Asia: trends, constraints and productivity - a prologue. Journal of Crop Production, 3(2), 1–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kijne, J. W., Barker, R., & Molden, D. (2003). Improving water productivity in agriculture: editors' overview. In J. W. Kijne, R. Barker, & D. Molden (Eds.), Improving water productivity in agriculture: limits and opportunities for improvement. Wallingford: CAB International in association with the International Water Management Institute.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kumar, A., Singh, R., & Shoran, J. (2007). Constraints analysis of wheat cultivation in eastern India. Indian Journal of Agricultural Research, 41(2), 97–101.Google Scholar
  24. Ladha, J. K., Dawe, D., Pathak, H., Padre, A. T., Yadav, R. L., Singh, B., et al. (2003). How extensive are yield declines in long-term rice–wheat experiments in Asia? Field Crops Research, 81(2–3), 159–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Manjunath, B. L., & Korikanthimath, V. S. (2009). Sustainable rice production through farming systems approach. Journal of Sustainable Agriculture, 33(3), 272–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Pande, S., Stevenson, P., Narayana, R. J., Neupane, R. K., Chaudhary, R. N., Grzywacz, D., et al. (2005). Reviving chickpea production in Nepal through integrated crop management, with emphasis on Botrytis gray mold. Plant Disease, 89, 1252–1262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Pingali, P. L., Hossain, M., & Gerpacio, R. V. (1997). Asian rice bowls: the returning crisis? Wallingford: CAB International in association with the International Rice Research Institute.Google Scholar
  28. Pingali, P. L., & Shah, M. (2001). Policy re-directions for sustainable resource use: the rice-wheat cropping system of the Indo-Gangetic plains. Journal of Crop Production, 3(2), 103–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Prasad, R. (2005). Rice-wheat cropping systems. Advances in Agronomy, 86, 255–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Selim, R., Fatema, K., & Iftekharul Haque, A. K. (2007). Growth and poverty impacts of flood and SIDR in 2007: preliminary estimates from some simulation results. Bangladesh Economic Outlook 1, No 2.Google Scholar
  31. Shah, T. (2007). Issues in reforming informal water economies of low-income countries: Examples from India and elsewhere. In B. van Koppen, M. Giordano, & J. Butterworth (Eds.), Community-based water law and water resource management reform in developing countries (pp. 65–95). Wallingford: CAB International.Google Scholar
  32. Shumba, E. M., Bernstein, R. H., & Waddington, S. R. (1990). Maize and groundnut yield gap analysis for research priority setting in the smallholder sector of Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe Journal of Agricultural Research, 28, 105–113.Google Scholar
  33. Timsina, J., & Connor, D. J. (2001). Productivity and management of rice-wheat cropping systems: issues and challenges. Field Crops Research, 69, 93–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Trethowan, R. M., van Ginkel, M., & Rajaram, S. (2002). Progress in breeding wheat for yield and adaptation in global drought affected environments. Crop Science, 42(5), 1441–1446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Van Rheenen, H. A., & Singh, Q. (1997). Chickpea in ICRISAT programmes. Grain Legumes, 17, 24–26.Google Scholar
  36. Waddington, S. R., Li, X., Dixon, J., & Hyman, G. (2009). Production constraints and opportunities for six priority GCP food crops in farming systems with high poverty. A report for the Generation Challenge Programme (GCP) of the CGIAR covering GCP SP5 Project G4008.36: Getting the focus right: food crops and smallholder constraints. CIMMYT Impacts Targeting and Assessment Unit, México. 216p + annexes.Google Scholar
  37. Waddington, S. R., Li, X., Dixon, J., Hyman, G., & de Vicente, M. C. (2010). Getting the focus right: production constraints for six major food crops in Asian and African farming systems. Food Security, 2(1), 27–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Widawsky, D. A., & O’Toole, J. C. (1996). Prioritizing the rice research agenda for eastern India. In R. E. Evenson, R. W. Herdt, & M. Hossain (Eds.), Rice research in asia: progress and priorities (pp. 109–129). Wallingford: CAB International in association with the International Rice Research Institute.Google Scholar
  39. Wade, L. J., Fukai, S., Samson, B. K., Ali, A., & Mazid, M. A. (1999). Rainfed lowland rice: physical environment and cultivar requirements. Field Crops Research, 64, 3–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. & International Society for Plant Pathology 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaoyun Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Stephen R. Waddington
    • 2
  • John Dixon
    • 3
  • Arun K. Joshi
    • 4
  • M. Carmen de Vicente
    • 5
  1. 1.Agricultural Economics UnitHuazhong Agricultural UniversityWuhanChina
  2. 2.CIMMYT Impacts Targeting and Assessment UnitTexcocoMexico
  3. 3.Australian Centre for International Agricultural ResearchCanberraAustralia
  4. 4.Department of Genetics and Plant Breeding, Institute of Agricultural SciencesBanaras Hindu UniversityVaranasiIndia
  5. 5.CGIAR Generation Challenge ProgrammeCIMMYTTexcocoMexico

Personalised recommendations