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Droughts, Distress, and Policies for Drought-Proofing Agriculture in Bihar, India

Chapter

Abstract

Climate change-related weather shocks are becoming more frequent in India, and poor, agrarian populations are the most vulnerable to these vagaries of weather. This study was undertaken to assess if the various drought-proofing and drought-relief programs are effective in mitigating the impact of droughts on crop production and household consumption in rural Bihar, India. The government of Bihar runs a number of drought-proofing and drought-relief programs to mitigate the impact of drought, but with little effect. The two largest social safety net programs—the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS)—provide little relief to drought-affected families in rural Bihar. Further, additional subsidy on diesel to irrigate kharif crops in drought-affected areas does not reach many farmers. Delays, uncertainties, and high transaction costs in its disbursal to farmers further reduce the subsidy’s effectiveness. Public tube-wells and subsidy on private wells and pump-sets fail to provide wide-scale relief for the drought-stricken area. The results of our year-long study of 160 farmers with access to cheap irrigation from solar-powered pump-sets in Bihar showed that these farmers grew paddy in of all their land in kharif in 2013, in spite of low rainfall. The farmers reaped nearly 20% higher yields compared to their neighbors. These results indicate that affordable groundwater irrigation is essential for effective drought proofing in Bihar. A well-designed program to promote solar pumps can strengthen drought proofing and make agriculture more resilient to climate change.

Keywords

Safety nets Public tube-wells Irrigation Solar power Subsidy 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Food Policy Research InstituteNew DelhiIndia
  2. 2.University of Minnesota Twin CitiesMinneapolisUSA

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