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Jharkhand agriculture performs far below the Indian average. ICRISAT works with Jharkhand research and development organisations to improve farm yields, resilience and incomes in a holistic way. Development strategies include promotion of improved crop varieties, more productive and sustainable farming systems and community watershed management.  

40% - Jharkhand's share of Indian mineral resources

35% - Foodgrain productivity gap in Jharkhand compared to the Indian average

+66% - Increase in oilseeds yields in Jharkhand  from 2009-10 to 2012-13

5% - Share of cultivated land used for cash crops in Jharkhand

3,165,000 ha ­- Total area of Jharkhand’s farms (2011 census)


General context

Jharkhand, which means land of forests, separated from Bihar State in the year  2000. The state is rich in mining (40% of India's mineral resources), forest and biodiversity resources, and therefore some highly industrial cities like Ranchi or Dhanbad.

Data available shows that 39% of the population are living below the poverty line, poverty being more widespread in rural areas, and among tribal (28% of the total population of 33 million) and scheduled castes (12% of the population). Remote agrarian districts like Gumla showed poverty rates above 80% a few years ago [2004 data]. Human density varies drastically across the state, reaching 1,167 persons per square kilometre in Dhanbad district where the coal/steel industry provides employment.

Despite three quarters of the workforce being engaged in agriculture, investments in the farming sector have not followed the industrial boom. Farms have low productivity (foodgrain yields in 2010-11 were 35% less than the all-India average) and represent less than 20% of the state's GDP. About 95% of the cultivated area is used for foodgrain cultivation and the rest to grow cash crops.

The state has three main crop seasons: kharif (or aghani), rabi, and garma (summer). The major kharif crops are rice, millet and maize. The rabi crops are wheat, pulses, gram, and mustard. In the garma, farmers grow rice, maize, groundnuts and vegetables.

ICRISAT research in Jharkhand

Pulses are non-traditional crops but are fast emerging as important crops in the state, with the area under them doubling from 2009-10 to 2012-13 to reach about 600,000 hectares. Together with partners like the Jharkhand Tribal Development Society (JTDS) and Birsa Agricultural University (BAU), ICRISAT research is promoting farmer-preferred improved chickpea varieties to raise average yields from the current low of 830kg/ha and help design resilient productive cropping systems.[ref: Project on "Sustainable Management Of Crop-Based Production Systems For Raising Agricultural Productivity In Rainfed Asia"]

Improved crop production technologies for chickpea and oilseed crops are being promoted in rainfed rice fallow lands where farmers used to grow nothing after the paddy harvest. Chickpea and other crops like field pea, linseed, or mustard can now use the remaining soil moisture. Since there is a thriving market for these foodgrains, farmers are quickly adopting these new crops. [link to Progress report Enhancing the income of resource poor farmers through introduction and expansion of improved crop production technologies (ICPT) of chickpea and other crops in rainfed rice fallow lands (RRFL) in Jharkhand].

ICRISAT is also involved in community watershed management initiatives to identify cost-effective scalable interventions to improve rural livelihoods in Jamshedpur (East Singhbhum) and Gumla districts. With 80% of the annual rainfall occurring between June and September, and the predominance of rainfed crop farming, efficient management and conservation of natural resources are key to increasing farming intensity and profitability across the year.

Research aims at identifying best-bet practices through a holistic and participatory Integrated Genetic and Natural Resources Management model. This means testing different technical or institutional innovations, crop-livestock farming systems, and policy and gender-oriented changes. In Gumla for instance, soil testing revealed micronutrient deficiencies like boron and zinc. Demonstrations of targeted soil fertility, crop diversification, addressing the lack of input supply (seeds, fertilizer) and building the capacity of grassroot organizations have sparked many changes in farming practices, and yields and incomes have risen considerably. [See case study in Gumla district]. 

Involving women in rural Jharkhand is key to tackling poverty.
Gliricidia nurseries set up in villages to improve soil health and provide a new source of fodder. Source: [ref Tata Trust report]

The cultivation of chickpea in rice fallow lands can boost crop intensity and help sustain good yields across the years.