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Explained: Is there a crisis in rice?

General Studies  3

Syllabus: Agriculture: Major cropping patterns in various parts of the country


Source: Indian Express

Context: India has witnessed a shortfall in rice acreage while the overall crop coverage has risen.


  • Storage: Government godowns had over 47.2 million tonnes (mt) of rice ( nearly three-and-a-half times the minimum level of stocks, to meet both “operational” (public distribution system) and “strategic reserve” (exigency) requirements for the quarter.
  • Wheat: Public stocks have plunged from all-time highs to 14-year lows within the space of a year.


Data about Rice:

  • It is India’s largest agricultural crop (accounting for over 40% of the total foodgrain output)
  • India is the world’s biggest exporter (around 40% of the world’s export)
  • India is 2nd largest rice producer in the world after China.


Process of planting rice: Farmers first sow paddy seeds in nurseries. These seedlings are then uprooted and replanted 25-35 days later in the main field. Nursery sowing generally happens before the monsoon rains. For the first three weeks or so after transplanting, the water depth has to be maintained at 4-5 cm, in order to control weed growth in the early stage of the crop.

Why is the acreage less?

  • Low rainfall in paddy areas: Areas such as Uttar Pradesh to West Bengal have had very little rain.
  • Drying up of nurseries: Most farmers with limited irrigation facilities have seen even their nurseries drying up”

Paddy cultivation takes place across a wider geography, unlike wheat which is grown only in a few states north of the Vindhyas. Also, rice is both a Kharif (monsoon) and rabi (winter-spring) season crop. So, the losses in one area or season can potentially be recouped from the other.


Insta Links:

Direct seeding of Rice


Practice Questions:

Q. What is/are the advantage/advantages of zero tillage in agriculture? (UPSC 2020)


Sowing of wheat is possible without burning the residue of the previous crops.

  1. Without the need for a nursery of rice saplings, direct planting of paddy seeds in the wet soil is possible.
  2. Carbon sequestration in the soil is possible.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: D

No-till farming is an agricultural technique for growing crops or pasture without disturbing the soil through tillage. No-till farming decreases the amount of soil erosion tillage causes in certain soils, especially in sandy and dry soils on sloping terrain.

Wheat can be grown without burning residue e.g. using happy seeders. DRS allows direct seeding of rice without the need for transplantation. Carbon sequestration is also possible (Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide. )


The lower Gangetic plain is characterised by humid climate with high temperature throughout the year. Which one among the following pairs of crops is most suitable for this region?

(a) Paddy and Cotton

(b) Wheat and Jute

(c) Paddy and Jute

(d) Wheat and cotton

Answer: C