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Climate change has transformed pearl millet cultivation zones

GS3/GS1 Paper 

 Syllabus: Agriculture/ Geography/ Cropping pattern


Source: DTE


Context: A study ( by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and ICAR-AICRP) reveals that climate change has shifted India’s core pearl millet (bajra) production zone from arid regions in Rajasthan to eastern Rajasthan and Haryana due to increased rainfall caused by human-induced climate change.


What is Pearl millet?

It is commonly known as bajra, a drought-tolerant cereal grain widely cultivated in arid and semi-arid regions of India and Africa. It is known for its resilience to adverse growing conditions, including low rainfall.


More about Pearl millet:

Its grains are small, round, and typically light yellow to whitish in colour. This grain is a good source of nutrition, containing essential nutrients like protein, fibre, and micronutrients.



It plays a crucial role in food security and livelihoods in regions prone to water scarcity and challenging agricultural conditions.


Major findings of the study:

Key Points Details
Shifted Production Zone The core production zone shifted from arid regions in Rajasthan to eastern Rajasthan and Haryana.
Increased rainfall in Gujarat is prompting farmers to shift from pearl millet to cash crops like cotton and castor beans.
Triggering Factor Increased rainfall due to human-induced climate change.
Zone Classification India classifies pearl millet cultivation zones based on rainfall patterns and soil types.
Zone ‘A1’:The arid regions of Rajasthan, which receive less than 400 millimetres (mm) of rainfall, are categorised as Zone ‘A1’.
Zone ‘A’: Semi-arid regions in north and central India, including southern Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh, which receive more than 400 mm of rainfall per year, form Zone ‘A’.
Zone ‘B’: Semi-arid regions with heavy soils in southern India and central western India with over 400 mm of rainfall from Zone B.


Initiatives in India:

  • The government declared (in 2018) millets as “Nutri-Cereals”,considering their “high nutritive value” and also “anti-diabetic properties”.
  • The 2018 year: National Year of Millets”.
  • Increase in MSP for millets
  • The government has included millets in the public distribution system (PDS) and POSHAN Abhiyan.
  • Millet Mission (under the National Food Security Mission): It will help develop farm-gate processing and empower farmers using FPOs.
  • Kerala State Agriculture Department: Millet Village scheme
  • Millet Startup Innovation Challenge
  • A contest for designing a comic story, with the theme ‘India’s Wealth, Millets for Health’


Other Initiatives for millets:

  • SCO: India proposed to organize the Millet Food Festival’
  • Millet promotion in the current G20 summit at New Delhi (2023)



In view of the impact of climate change and the government’s aim for climate-smart agriculture, Millets deserves encouragement. It can also help in providing nourishment to people across all income categories and supporting climate adaptation of rainfed sustainable farming systems.


Mains Links

Millets have enormous potential to form a core component in climate-smart agriculture whilst offering nutritional and food security benefits. Elaborate. (15M)


Prelims Link

Consider the following crops of India: (UPSC 2012)

  1. Groundnut
  2. Sesamum
  3. Pearl millet


Which of the above is/are predominantly rainfed crops/crops?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

© 3 only

(d) 1, 2 and 3


Answer: D


Over 60% of the total cropped area in India is Rainfed. Millets (89% of area is rainfed); Pulses (88%); Cotton (73%), etc.


Among the following, which one is the least water-efficient crop? (UPSC 2021)


(a) Sugarcane

(b) Sunflower

© Pearl Millet

(d) Red gram


Answer: A