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Unirrigated Agriculture in Tamil Nadu

Agriculture continues to be the mainstay of livelihood for more than 50 percent of the population in Tamil Nadu. It contributes 12% of the Nest State Domestic Product. Agriculture is the single largest sector providing job opportunities for rural people, besides being the source of supply of food grains and other dietary staples and serving as the chief source of raw material for industries. In Tamil Nadu, out of 7 million hectares of cultivable area, around 3.1 million hectares comes under unirrigated agriculture. The major segment of the pulses and oilseeds are produced by the unirrigated agriculture (Season and Crop Report 2010).

The existing studies in the area of unirrigated agriculture have used the gross cropped area under irrigation as an indicator to identify unirrigated agricultural areas. They consider that the predominant rainfed agriculture as ''unirrigated areas'' and predominant irrigated agriculture as ''irrigated area''. ''However, several previous studies have faced this conceptual issue in categorizing unirrigated agriculture. Therefore, the studies in the area of unirrigated agriculture have followed both average rain fall and gross cropped area under irrigation (Rangasamy, 1981; Bapna et al., 1984; Jodha, 1985; Subbarao, 1985; Shah and Sah and 1993; Throat, 1993).

As a result, the Statistical Hand Book of the Tamil Nadu has classified the districts according to the range of actual rain fall (see Table 1). The average actual rain fall is categorized below 800 mm, 801 to 1000 mm, 1001 to 1200 mm, 1201 to 1400 mm, 1401 to 1800 mm and above the 1800 mm. This categorization may be useful to identify the gross cropped area under irrigation and unirrigated districts of Tamil Nadu state.

Table 1. Distribution of Districts by Range of Average Actual Rainfall 2009-10.

Sl.No.

Range of Rainfall

Distribution of Districts by Range of Rainfall

1

below 800 mm

Namakkal, Erode, Tiruchirapalli, Karur, Perambalur, Madurai, Virudhunagar and Thoothukudi

2

801 to 1000 mm

Vellore, Salem, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri, Thiruvannamalai, Pudukkottai, Dingugul, Theni, Ramanathapuram, Sivagangai, Tirunelveli and Ariyaliur

3

1001 to 1200

Kancheepuram, Thiruvallur, Villupuram, Coimbatore and Kanniyakumari

4

1201 to 1400

Chennai, Cuddalore, Thanjavur and Thiruvarur

5

1401 to 1800 mm

Nagapattinam

6

1801mm and above

The Nilgiris

Source : Tamil Nadu Statistical Hand Book 2010, Department of Economics and Statistics, Chennai

Table 2. Details of Percentage of Gross Cropped Area under irrigation and Annual Actual Rain Fall in Districts of Tamil Nadu State

Sl.No.

Districts

Percentage of Gross Cropped Area under Irrigation

Total Annual Rain Fall

(Actual in mm.)

1.

Kancheepuram

88.42

1156.80

2.

Thiruvallur

85.59

1062.00

3.

Cuddalore

59.03

1351.40

4.

Villupuram

72.02

1096.90

5.

Vellore

53.89

814.80

6.

Thiruvannamalai

74.75

957.70

7.

Salem

50.29

860.20

8.

Namakkal

48.59

592.30

9.

Dharmapuri

43.83

812.70

10.

Krishnagiri

28.65

920.50

11.

Coimbatore

61.53

1177.80

12.

Thiruppur

61.27

-

13.

Erode

69.52

708.60

14.

Tiruchirappalli

59.19

757.30

15.

Karur

60.31

637.10

16.

Perambalur

30.99

760.20

17.

Ariyalur

31.98

823.70

18.

Pudukottai

74.27

813.70

19.

Thanjavur

82.21

1217.00

20.

Thiruvarur

68.42

1325.80

21.

Nagapattinam

57.00

1666.90

22.

Madurai

63.68

713.30

23.

Theni

57.46

821.40

24.

Dindigul

48.44

820.00

25.

Ramanathapuram

35.56

866.40

26.

Virudhunagar

46.64

503.20

27.

Sivagangai

73.81

892.50

28.

Tirunelveli

77.38

901.10

29.

Thoothukudi

24.94

634.70

30.

The Nilgiris

0.52

2368.60

31.

Kanyakumari

41.70

1142.40

Tamil Nadu

58.12

937.80

Source : Tamil Nadu Statistical Hand Book 2010, Department of Economics and Statistics, Chennai

Mentioned above, the average actual rain fall and gross cropped area under irrigation are considered for identifying the unirrigated agricultural districts. In Tamil Nadu, Namakkal, Erode, Tiruchirappalli, Karur, Perambalur, Madurai and Virudhunagar districts are identified as low rain fall district and their actual rainfall is below 800 mm. Among the low rain fall districts, percentage of gross cropped area under irrigation is relatively lower in Thoothukudi (24.94), Perambalur (30.99) and Virudhunagar (46.64) districts.

In general, unirrigated agriculture is considered as a gamble with monsoon. in this context, Government of Tamil Nadu has initiated a Missio9n on Rain fed Farming to increase the productivity and income of the farmers in unirrigated agricultural areas by adopting integrated watershed approaches of International Crop Research Institute for Semi Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) with the assistance from TNAU and Central

Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA). However, the problem of unirrigated are unresolved and those are discussed in the forthcoming sections.

 
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