Advertisement

Nonlinear Groundwater and Agricultural Land Use Change in Rajasthan, India

  • Trevor BirkenholtzEmail author

Abstract

Since the 1950s, the rapid expansion of groundwater irrigation globally has led to dramatic shifts in land use. Nowhere is this more true than in India where, since the 1960s, groundwater irrigation has expanded to 34.5 million hectares, 70 % of the country’s total. Yet we do not know the character of this landscape nor the degree to which changes in land use are the result of multiple ecological and social drivers. Therefore, this article asks: (1) what is the relationship between groundwater decline and agricultural land use change in India, and what does it mean for the future of agricultural intensification; and (2) in what ways do social institutions produce and adapt to this change, while leading to yet further shifts in land use? This chapter draws on government statistics and from household surveys and interviews from a case study in the semiarid state of Rajasthan, India, to examine these questions.

Findings suggest that the relationship between the expansion of groundwater-irrigated area and land use change is nonlinear, in that the expansion of irrigated area initially led to the expansion of market-oriented crops but rapid groundwater decline is demanding a return to local cropping varieties, particularly among the most marginal producers. This return is being facilitated through the creation of new adaptive social institutions, such as tube well irrigation partnerships, under conditions of dynamic ecological change, including synergistic groundwater and land use change. The conclusion offers suggestions toward a second Green Revolution in agriculture via the strengthening of local social institutions.

Keywords

Adaptation Groundwater India Irrigation Second Green Revolution Social institutions 

References

  1. Alauddin M, Quiggin J (2008) Agricultural intensification, irrigation and the environment in South Asia: issues and policy options. Ecol Econ 65:111–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barker R, Molle F (2005) Perspectives on Asian irrigation. In: Shivakoti G, Vermillion D, Lam WF, Ostrom E, Pradhan U, Yoder R (eds) Asian irrigation in transition: responding to challenges. Sage, New Delhi/LondonGoogle Scholar
  3. Birkenholtz T (2008a) Contesting expertise: the politics of environmental knowledge in Northern Indian groundwater practices. Geoforum 39:466–482CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Birkenholtz T (2008b) ‘Environmentality’ in Rajasthan’s groundwater sector: divergent environmental knowledges and subjectivities. In: Goodman M, Boykoff M, Evered KT (eds) Contentious geographies: environment, meaning, scale. Ashgate Press, AldershotGoogle Scholar
  5. Birkenholtz T (2009) Irrigated landscapes, produced scarcity, and adaptive social institutions in Rajasthan, India. Ann Assoc Am Geogr 99:118–137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Caldas M, Walker R, Arima E, Perz S, Aldrich S, Simmons C (2007) Theorizing land cover and land use change: the peasant economy of Amazonian deforestation. Ann Assoc Am Geogr 97:86–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chowdhury RR, Turner BL (2006) Reconciling agency and structure in empirical analysis: smallholder land use in the southern Yucatan, Mexico. Ann Assoc Am Geogr 96:302–322CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. DeFries R, Eshleman NK (2004) Land-use change and hydrologic processes: a major focus for the future. Hydrol Process 18:2183–2186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Directorate of Economics and Statistics (2003) Statistical abstract: Rajasthan 2001. Directorate of Economics and Statistics, JaipurGoogle Scholar
  10. FAO (2006) FAOSTAT core prices data. Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  11. FAO (2008) Key statistics of food and agriculture external trade. Geneva: United Nations Development ProgramGoogle Scholar
  12. Faurès J-M, Hoogeveen J, Bruinsma J (2007) The FAO irrigated area forecast for 2030. Available at: http://www.fao.org/nr/aboutnr/nrl/en/
  13. Fullen MA, Catt JA (2004) Chapter 3: Desertification, salinization and amelioration of arid soils. In: Soil management problems and solutions. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  14. Gaur A, Biggs TW, Gumma MK, Parthasaradhi G, Turra H (2008) Water scarcity effects on equitable water distribution and land use in a major irrigation project: case study in India. J Irrig Drain Eng ASCE 134:26–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. GORGB (2003) Government of Rajasthan Groundwater Board. Personal communication. In: Birkenholtz T (ed). Rajasthan Groundwater Board, JaipurGoogle Scholar
  16. Hanson JD, Liebig MA, Merrill SD, Tanaka DL, Krupinsky JM, Stott DE (2007) Dynamic cropping systems: increasing adaptability amid an uncertain future. Agron J 99:939–943Google Scholar
  17. Hazell P, Wood S (2008) Drivers of change in global agriculture. Philos Trans R Soc B Biol Sci 363:495–515CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hecht SB, Saatchi SS (2007) Globalization and forest resurgence: changes in forest cover in El Salvador. Bioscience 57:663–672CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hutson SS, Barber NL, Kenny JF, Linsey KS, Lumia DS, Maupin MA (2005) Estimated use of water in the United States in 2000. United States Geological Survey, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  20. IPCC (2007) Contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. In: Solomon S, Qin D, Manning M, Chen Z, Marquis M, Averyt KB, Tignor M, Miller HL (eds) Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge/New YorkGoogle Scholar
  21. Jacks G, Bhattacharya P, Chaudhary V, Singh KP (2005) Controls on the genesis of some high-fluoride groundwaters in India. Appl Geochem 20:221–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jeffrey C (2001) ‘A fist is stronger than five fingers’: caste and dominance in rural north India. Trans Inst Br Geogr 26:217–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lawrence D, D’Odorico P, Diekmann L, DeLonge M, Das R, Eaton J (2008) Land change science special feature: ecological feedbacks following deforestation create the potential for a catastrophic ecosystem shift in tropical dry forest (vol 104, pg 20696, 2007). Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 105:3169–3169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Mertz O, Wadley RL, Christensen AE (2005) Local land use strategies in a globalizing world: subsistence farming, cash crops and income diversification. Agric Syst 85:209–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Narayanamoorthy A (2006) Trends in irrigated area in India: 1950–1951 to 2002–2003Google Scholar
  26. Narayanamoorthy A, Deshpande RS (2005) Where water seeps! Towards a new phase in India’s irrigation reforms. Academic Foundation, New DelhiGoogle Scholar
  27. Peters DPC, Sala OE, Allen CD, Covich A, Brunson M (2007) Cascading events in linked ecological and socioeconomic systems. Front Ecol Environ 5:221–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Postel S, Polak P, Gonzales F, Keller J (2001) Drip irrigation for small farmers: a new initiative to alleviate hunger and poverty. Water Int 26:3–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ramesam V, Barua S (1973) Preliminary studies on the mechanisms controlling the salinity in northwestern arid region of India. Indian Geohydrol 9:10–18Google Scholar
  30. Robbins P (2001) Tracking invasives in India, or why our landscapes have never been modern. Ann Assoc Am Geogr 91:637–659CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Shah T (2005) Groundwater and human development: challenges and opportunities in livelihoods and environment. Water Sci Technol 51:27–37Google Scholar
  32. Singhania RA, Somani LL (1992) Soils of Rajasthan. In: Sharma HS, Sharma ML (eds) Geographical facets of Rajasthan. Kuldeep Publications, AjmerGoogle Scholar
  33. Vasquez-Leon M, Liverman D (2004) The political ecology of land-use change: affluent ranchers and destitute farmers in the Mexican municipio of Alamos. Hum Organ 63:21–33CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wadley RL, Mertz O, Christensen AE (2006) Local land use strategies in a globalizing world: managing social and environmental dynamics. Land Degrad Dev 17:117–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Walker R, Homma AKO (1996) Land use and land cover dynamics in the Brazilian Amazon: an overview. Ecol Econ 18:67–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wollenweber B, Porter JR, Lubberstedt T (2005) Need for multidisciplinary research towards a second green revolution: commentary. Curr Opin Plant Biol 8:337–341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Zimmerer KS (ed) (2006) Globalization & new geographies of conservation. The University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography and Geographic Information ScienceUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignChampaignUSA

Personalised recommendations