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