Ad Here  
Breaththrough in malaria control Strengthen the base... Colour-Chem’s colourful KRVS A C Muthiah – his munificent bequeaths to science B H Kothari - a tribute Naidu will soon build a new Hyderabad The Jan Dhan bonanza Poor representation for Kerala and TN in Cabinet Shanti and Sadhana through Music Secularism and anti-Hinduism Delhi Chalo... Solar, solar everywhere … Why land prices zoom in TN? When Ratan Tata visited SRM Whistle-Stop Tour of Raghuram Rajan Varuna (rain) in 2015; Vaayu (air) in 2016. Chennai devastated Tatas moving out of urea production... The why of tax incentives When the President was rendered homeless… West Bengal: mindless malignancy Multi-faceted Venkat This scant respect for Law A rich pool of talent not utilised…. Adapt Vajpayee dinner diplomacy Cutting the nose to spite the face The few handicaps... Limit foreign borrowings to hi-tech, export potential projects... Adharma of opposition politics Maximising the micro pricing … R Sridhar steps down as CEO of Shriram Capital The nuclear option A think tank for Chennai to the lack of interest on the part of these to focus on original research. This despite the much lower costs of such research in India. The industry which thrived on the protection of a closed economy and the advantage of a vast domestic market, has failed to organise its evolution on healthy lines Parliament in paralysis... An inexplicable neglect Align crops to agro climate endowments… Don’t seem to feel the pulse… Infrastructure funding – lessons learnt There was flood of milk. Reason: no milk commissioner! When online building permits work…. When small is no larger beautiful.. IAS invades NDDB... L&T- the specialty of special purpose vehicles Tribute – M V Murugappan TN – agglomerate land holdings without alienating ownership Eternal support for capitalisation of PS banks Silver Years of Madras Musings Inflation: are we emulating Argentina and Brazil? Haul over the coal Airlines in India: cost and space Increasing non co-operation of state leaders Building loyalty through the stomach Sri Lanka votes for change He continues the focus on social amelioration Noble nonagenarians... Alexa – Talking Wikipedia Welcome changes that testify to Jayalalithaa’s return to health Make standards certification mandatory... London, London Narayan Cement prices continue to rise… Excel Generators provide the vital back-up A proud Madrasi For whom the MIDS bell tolls? Fuel for thought More Shakti to resource mobilisation... EVM is tamper-proof The star of Spencers is no more Mu Sigma – is no more Banning booze... Kulandai was a giant Tough task taking states together PC’s preference for professionals Funding the un-funded The rise and rise of KCP Medical costs hit the roof... He saved millions from starvation... PPP mode for upgrading Corporation Hospitals TIAM turns a full cycle Solar thermal shines… …and of a popular trade leader Permanent secretariat for TN GIM The brown list of Venkitaramanan Moily’s bold thrust Discoms deserve better… When nations steal growth from one another… The power-full Hindujas Waning interest in public discussions… Chennai and Kolkata miss opportunity to grow as Delhi and Mumbai Intellectual of rare qualities More tributes to GR Welcome focus on core competence An enemy’s enemy is a friend Engineering seats go abegging A more liberated TN… IPL type auction for VCs? No mega rail project for Tamil Nadu CII projects higher growth… Tihar, Puzhal not different from Parappana Agrahara Return to king coal for urea... Delhi is distant When TN politicians can emulate Kerala's Rahman at CIC New IT products of Ramco in the pipeline… No engine for this car Reliance’s TV – 18 ready to launch Tamil News Channel TN-leverage strength of BHEL, NLC... Things happen by accident and not by design... Bihar elections - the Rajaji formula worked Remembering Indira Sivasailam... Nuclear power at the nucleus Protest masters... Modi storms Silicon Valley ONGC at KG Basin Convulsions in The Hindu Shipping woes of Chennai companies Recognition to role of NBFCs.... More Shakthi to Das’ elbow Poor quality of university VCs Marketing expert Balagopal is no more IPL - no surprise this scam A welcome initiative by the judiciary Gas is the way forward Sweet news for TN sugar mills The Swadeshi Trump Wise Presidents Telangana in top gear… Tribute – UCAL Selvan… Not just in-laws (and outlaws); they’ve renowned academics at the helm! CIPET hqrs to stay at Guindy – for the present? Another Indian music maestro at the UN Tax agriculture Boy, can you beat these? Odisha: spectacular win by Naveen Patnaik Scientists urged to take up farmer-oriented research No Maha Koottani in TN... Kinetic Karnataka Quality silica from Neyveli Polls and promises How Air-India loses customs... Like Hinduism: many paths to reach God... Editor's Says Revive development banks... Welcome thrust on trade in Modi’s foreign visits... Dr C Rangarajan returns to Chennai A glass full of corruption Paytm karo... Tribute – Manikam Ramaswami The ‘Jayanthi Tax.’ TELANGANA at last…BUT Liberal imports idling indigenous capacities Russi Mody – a tribute Streamlining mandatory third party cover Mersal magnified Where is Rajaji? Gay abandon in pricing Welcome GST Wanted: a second airport for Chennai Roaring Ro-Ro facility Plummeting profits of PSBs S Ramanathan – a versatile musician, musicologist GNS - 100: our first subscriber Music happens Insurance companies bleeding, yet no decision on increasing FDI limit! Why this malaise in medical education? Of course, Gujarat is vibrant F C Kohli - his concerns all embracing Valli, they are more marginalised Tatas moving out of urea production... For whom the bell tolls? Come elections, come advertisements... Sweeter prospects for sugar Five star activism stalls development activity The rise and fall of Annamalai University Lalu’s envy, India’s pride CSR and CMI: promise of another Srinivasan Ramanujan... Fortune for Indian Airlines Revving up the manufacturing sector Preserving for the future More heat than light Readers' Mail Rs.1600 crore paper board plant of TNPL Small units prefers to remain small... Auto components surge… Where a state respects its litterateurs… Godspeed, Chief Minister JJ Editor's Notes Padma Bhushan for A Ramakrishna Vibrant Gujarat TN accounts for the largest recruits by the IT sector Build close rapport with business leaders A friendly business group Should we change the official year? Tribute Modi and the lady Quality education through the PPP mode Cleaning Ganga – relocate tanneries and install electric crematoria Put expensive assets created to use... Road development slows down Land reclamation from sea appears cheaper! China invests in India Muffled voices for merit… L&T: focus on infrastructure and more infrastructure… Contrarian cousins GM Technology at last! Diamond jubilee of Egmore Samskrt School The ‘Ayyo-yes’ is no more EEC at the National Media Centre WTO Meet: resolved to meet again Robber barons everywhere Bihar – Nitish Kumar adopts the Lalu model The sea- saw battle continues... Shaming of Tamils by Tamil farmers at Delhi The balancing act Fortune 500 review CRS, a jewel among managers, is no more. Lesson from Chandrababu Naidu Shale gas and its shallow future The Gulf aviation boom Demise of a media baron... Making ‘my Amaravati’... Naidu’s return augurs well for Seemandhra TGS- The king storyteller Computation of GDP – conundrums continue Fall in crude prices help in oil sector reform All eyes on Sankara Nethralaya Focus on quality of power - its only around 170-180V Which side are you, Montek? The Ports’ Pasha expands into Tamil Nadu Measuring roof tops in terms of KW/MW MHC should not return to its old indisciplined ways A Grand Finale for SN’s MS centenary at the US… Delhi returns to BJP A professional at the helm of IRDA... Pharma – overdose of copying An informal presentation - analytical, forward locking... SoA @ 80 Air Asia India will set new benchmarks for budget travel S V Raju – a ‘good’ true liberal Delhi is distant… A yen for wastage… Online not in line with brick and mortar businesses... A Grand Finale for SN’s MS centenary at the US… Towards speedy justice Kudos to NDTV...
Align crops to agro climate endowments…

The six states in mid-west USA are large producers of corn and soybean. Over time these states have expanded production (that touched a peak 361 million tonnes in 2015), taking massive recourse to technology. Universities in this region like Wisconsin-Madison help achieve constant improvements in yields that average around 10,000 kg per acre (in India the average is around 800 kg).  For decades the region has been accounting for massive exports of corn (around 40 million tonnes last year) and corn products. In recent years a sizeable portion of production of corn is used for producing ethanol for powering automobiles. In several states a blend with ethanol has been made mandatory.

In the mid-western states I noticed no great dams, irrigation systems and canals. Seasonal rains of the region are largely found adequate to irrigate the crop. Water has been used so effectively! Combined with precision farming techniques taking liberal recourse to technology, rich harvests have been realised.

The main lesson is the selection of crop that is so perfectly aligned to the agro-climatic conditions. I noticed such an approach in Florida focusing on oranges and in California with its desert-like conditions (just 10 inches of rain a year) flourishing in the production of almonds, grapes and tomatoes (against 38 inches for Tamil Nadu).

For three decades I have been suggesting such a practice for India. Historically, different regions have been raising crops to individual preferences. The desire to be self-sufficient, family-wise and village-wise, resulted in raising crops unmindful of their suitability or economics. Every region producing rice illustrates this. Such an approach was understandable in the era of little cross-country trading in food-grains or little surplus in production over demand. The concept of self-sufficiency at the state level had lost its meaning over four decades ago when the country moved from shortage to surplus in most agricultural products.

In this background one is appalled at the lack of attention to the selection of crops most suited to the agro-climatic endowments of a particular region. The recent widespread drought experienced by several states point to the absurdity of persisting with the cultivation of water-intensive crops in such regions subjected to visitations of drought. Marathwada region in Maharashtra is among the worst hit by drought but it persists with raising the water-intensive sugarcane.

Sugarcane is raised over two lakh hectares in the eight districts of this region. Such a practice is also witnessed in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu that have not been well-endowed with water resources. The practice is sustained by frequent and huge increase in the state-advised price for sugarcane and free power for agriculture in Tamil Nadu. Over the last four decades the price for sugarcane in Tamil Nadu had shot up from Rs 78 per tonne to around Rs 2600 per tonne. With elections around and with an eye on the votes of sugarcane farmers, political parties breezily promise even Rs 4000 per tonne.

For decades a licence for sugar mill is part of political patronage. This is quite evident from the large number of sugar co-operatives led by politicians of different hues in Maharashtra. In Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister M G Ramachandran gifted sugar mill licences to his close friends like G Varadaraj, Palani G Periasamy and S Viswanathan of Seshasayee Group.

Sugarcane is a water guzzler. The country should focus on producing sugar as it did historically in water surplus states like Bihar and UP.

Few states have bothered to tackle effectively the seasonal character of sugar production. Despite the sustained success of utilising bagasse for the production of paper by Tamil Nadu, other states are content to focus on sugar and alcohol. Lack of policy backup by the Centre over four decades has resulted in the neglect of newsprint production in large scale or in utilising molasses for the production of ethanol for powering automobiles.

It is so easy for courts to ban IPL matches in drought – struck Maharashtra; but don’t we need more attention to water use by crops? Like the US? Like Gujarat, states should select crops most suited to their agro-climatic endowments.


Author :
Reported On :
Sector :
Shoulder :
IE, the business magazine from south was launched in 1968 and pioneered business journalism in south. Through the 45 years IE has been focusing on well-presented and well-researched articles. When giants in the industry stumbled to keep pace with the digital revolution, IE stayed affixed embracing technology.
Read more
Economist Communications Ltd is committed to ensuring that your privacy is protected.
Read more
You agree that your use of this Website and the purchase of the magazine will be governed by these terms and conditions.
Read more
S-15, Industrial Estate,
Chennai - 600 032.
PHONE: +91 44 22501236