new All India Prelims Test Series 2020blank BEWARE OF FAKE INSTITUTES WITH SIMILAR NAMES. blank    blank

Changing crop patterns Led to Marathwada desertification

Changing crop patterns Led to Marathwada desertification
24 May

Changing crop patterns Led to Marathwada desertification

Maharashtra's Economists and Water Academics Prof. H.M. Desarda said the water crisis in Maharashtra's Marathwada region is a "policy-induced failure."


  • Prof. H.M. Desardaeconomist and former member of the Maharashtra State Planning Board warned earlier that the parched Marathwada region will be "decertified" in the near future.

  • According to him, the main root of the cause of the current happening in the region is an adaptation of crop pattern in the Marathwada region.

  • Policymakers ' ecological analphabetism and the power elite's selfishness in inducing farmers across Marathwada to adopt a crop pattern that resulted in the state's current water crisis.
  • Declining groundwater table: the water table dropped alarmingly in 70 of the 76 talukas, with more than 25 reporting a drop of more than two meters, according to data from the Groundwater Surveys and Development Agency.

  • Start of ' Desertification ': Looking at the Marathwada region's grim scenario, water expert said the desertification process had already started in the region.

Fiction is defined as a land degradation process in arid, semi-arid and sub-humid areas due to a variety of factors including climatic variations and human activities. Due to man-made activities and climate variations, desertification leads to persistent degradation of dryland and fragile ecosystems.

Desertification and Drought

Ht and desertification are phenomena that are closely related. Drought can affect large areas and can have serious environmental, social and economic impacts if it persists for months or years.
Le drought is a natural phenomenon whose effects can be exacerbated by human activities not adapted to the local climate, soil degradation is the process of transforming fertile soil into less or less productive soil. This is called desertification in extreme cases in drylands.

Status in India

Nearly 30 percent of the total geographic area of the country is undergoing degradation, according to a study.

Initiated by the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change, the ongoing study was led by the Indian Space Research Organization and involved 19 institutes.

The study analyzed the country's satellite imagery over a period of eight years. Recently, the report was released in the form of a ' Desertification and Land Degradation Atlas ' by ISRO's Space Applications Center, combining GIS and remote sensing data.

Programs for land degradation and desertification in India

A number of programs currently being implemented to address issues of land degradation and desertification are as follows:

  • Program for Integrated Watershed Management (IWMP)
  • National Program for forestry (NAP)
  • Green India National Mission (GIM)
  • The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme for Mahatma Gandhi (MGNREGS)
  • Soil conservation in the River Valley Catchment Project and Flood Prone River
  • National Watershed Rainfed Area Development Project (NWDPRA)
  • Grassland Development Food and Food Development Scheme, including Grass Reserves
  • Development and Water Management Command Area Program (CADWM) etc.
  • Krishi Vikas Yojana from Rashtriya
  • Pradhan Mantri KrishiSinchayee Yojana (Water Ministry)

  • Mismanagement of water: The reason behind the current is that successive governments are mismanaging water resources.

  • Water Mining: Water Mining is another area of concern that made it impossible to rejuvenate the groundwater table across the Marathwada region.

  • Changing Crop Pattern: Over the past decades, the crop pattern in the region has changed dramatically. Earlier, cereals and oilseeds used to be the main crops grown here.
    • Not only were these crops conducive to the arid climate of Marathwada, but they were also drought-resistant and led to the harvesting of moisture.

    • But the current crops, i.e. soybean and Bt Cotton, are not in line with this region's agro-climatic characteristics.

    • Together with the lure of easy sugarcane profits, these crops have brought farmers and citizens to the brink of the current hydrological disaster.

  • According to Prof. Desarda, a political crop was sugar cane. And every political party in the state used the crop as a powerful tool to build and retain its electoral base.

  • Despite the region's rising water crisis, 46 sugar factories were in operation in Marathwada.


The only way out of this ecological problem is to prohibit the cultivation of sugar cane, which is only growing in 4 percent of the total land that can be cultivated.

The 1976 Maharashtra Irrigation Act provides that, in the case of acute water scarcity, the government can notify people in the command area not to go in for water-intensive crops such as sugarcane.


Looking at the adversity of the condition, there is still no effort on the part of the government to remove farmers from sugar cane cultivation and switch to drought-resistant ones such as oilseeds and pulses. To cope with the crisis, the government must take a policy initiative to adopt environmentally sustainable crop patterns and adopt effective irrigation techniques. Government organizations, NGOs and the social community should be involved in raising public awareness of the grievance.