ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Economics of Dairy Farming in India

Pointing out the analytical and conceptual flaws in the paper, “Do Producers Gain from Selling Milk? An Economic Assessment of Dairy Farming in Contemporary India” (EPW, 24 June 2017), this article explores the economics of milk production in India. It highlights, in particular, the need for any analysis of the dairy sector in India to take into consideration the interactions between crop and livestock production systems.

Groundwater Irrigation versus Surface Irrigation

This response to "Will the Impact of the 2009 Drought Be Different from 2002?" (EPW, 12 September 2009) says that many of the arguments in the article proposing groundwater as India's prime adaptive mechanism in times of drought are fl awed and lack scientifi c support and that surface irrigation systems make a remarkable contribution to drought proofi ng in India. As such, balanced development of surface water and groundwater is an urgent need.

Chasing a Mirage: Water Harvesting and Artificial Recharge in Naturally Water-Scarce Regions

The analysis presented in this paper shows that in water-scarce regions of India, run-off harvesting does not offer any potential for groundwater recharge or improving water supplies at the basin scale. The issues are many: (1) Water harvesting in the "closed" basins have downstream negative hydrological impacts. (2) Due to high inter-annual variability in rainfall and therefore run-off, during drought years the water harvesting structures have become highly unreliable, whereas an attempt to capture run-off during wet years would remarkably increase the unit cost of harvesting water. (3) In closed basins, intensive water harvesting would lead to negative welfare outcomes due to high negative externalities at higher degrees of basin development. (4) Even at the local level, physical efficiency of water harvesting is likely to be poor, mainly due to groundwater-surface water interactions and the poor storage capacity of hard rock aquifers underlying most of the water-scarce regions. The artificial recharge systems in natural water-scarce areas in India are economically unviable. Also, the much talked about virtues such as promoting equity in access to water, social justice, water security for the poor, and realisation of greater economic value from the use of water, can be hardly achieved through water harvesting programmes in water-scarce regions, as practised today.

Virtual Water Trade in Dairy Economy

During the past 50 years, Gujarat has led India's exemplary growth in dairy production by forging the world's best known cooperative movement. Thanks to the market access and production enhancement programmes run by cooperatives, dairying has emerged at the centre stage of rural livelihoods systems in arid and semi-arid regions. However, intensification of dairying has been accompanied by intensive use of water used in growing feed and fodder. This study estimates that dairying-based rural livelihoods systems are now threatening the limited water resources of arid and semi-arid areas, and their future in turn is threatened by the depletion of these resources. The paper analyses virtual water exports and imports by some of the leading dairy cooperatives of Gujarat.
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