Cropping Pattern and Farming Practices in Palakurichi Village, 1918–2004
This paper discusses changes in agricultural production conditions over the last nine decades in Palakurichi village. The village is in the Thanjavur region of the Cauvery delta, and is historically known for its prosperous rice production systems. The specific focus of the paper is on how developments in irrigation facilities and technology resulted in changes in farming practices, input use, and yield levels in rice cultivation. The period 1918Ð2004 covers three distinct phases of agricultural development in India. This period encompasses the transition from traditional low-input use agriculture during the earlier part of the century, to a modern input-intensive agriculture using high-yielding varieties after the 1960s, and then a phase of declining yield levels from the late 1980s, when, with the withdrawal of the State from agricultural development programmes, the earlier gains began to wither away. In this most recent period, deterioration in irrigation water availability has restricted rice cultivation to a single-crop, direct-sown system, characterized by yields that have fallen to pre-green-revolution levels. The current situation is thus one that reflects a serious crisis of agricultural production, with the benefits of the “Green Revolution” having petered out and having been replaced by a regime of low and uncertain yields.
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