Irrigation coverage: Farms in majority of states are still rain-dependent

Twenty-two out of 36 states and union territories have less than 50 per cent irrigation coverage for their agricultural land

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Representative image

Ashli Varghese New Delhi

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Twenty-two out of 36 states and union territories have less than 50 per cent irrigation coverage for their agricultural land.

This includes places like Maharashtra, Karnataka and Odisha; shows an analysis of data from the Agricultural Statistics at a Glance 2022. The latest numbers are for 2019-20. The irrigation coverage for principal crops includes all food grains, oilseeds, cotton and tobacco. It shows that among the major states, Punjab and Haryana still have the best irrigation coverage of over 94 per cent each.


The monsoon season is expected to arrive late in the country. This delay can be attributed to the disruptive influence of cyclone Biparjoy. India receives more than 75 per cent of the annual rainfall during the monsoon period. 

States at the bottom of the list include many in the northeast, such as Mizoram, Assam and Sikkim. Each of them has less than 20 per cent coverage. Union territories ranking below them include Lakshadweep, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, as well as the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Each of them has less than ten per cent irrigation coverage.

Climate change is likely to affect farming dependent solely on rainfall, according to a July 2022 note from the National Rainfed Area Authority (NRAA).

“Rainfed crops are likely to be worst hit due to limited options of coping with variability of rainfall and temperature resulting in a shift in sowing time and shorter growing season, which may necessitate effective adjustment in sowing and harvesting dates,” it said.

The note added that 61 per cent of India’s farmers are rain-dependent. Rain-fed agriculture accounts for 40 per cent of total food grain production.

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First Published: Jul 04 2023 | 1:58 PM IST

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