ISSN (0970-2083)

Land Degradation and Sustainable Agriculture In Rajasthan, India

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Abstract

Land degradation refers to the reduction in the producing capacity of land due to wind and water erosion of soil, loss of soil humus, depletion of soil nutrients, secondary salinization, diminution and deterioration of vegetation cover as well as loss of biodiversity. Land and water are the two most important natural resources used in all food production systems. Even now 90 per cent of the food production comes from the soil and less than 10 per cent from inland water and oceans. The increased anthropogenic influence on natural resources Is leading to their over exploitation affecting the produc-tivity of land, upkeep of environment that survive with it and overall activity of life system. Land degradation seriously undermines the livelihood opportunities, thus leads to poverty, migration and food insecurity. Rajasthan is the largest state in the country in terms of area which is located in north-western part of the country. It has geographical area of 34.22 million hectare whichconstitutes 10.41 per cent area of the country. The population of state is 68.62 million which constitutes 5.67 per cent of total India's population. Rajasthan has the second position in livestock population of the country, which is 56.66 million. The land resources of Rajasthan are more peculiar on two counts. Firstly, it has a large desert area as cont pared to other states in thecountry. Secondly, the Aravali range of hills make a large part of land barren and It divides the slate into two distinct regions, Le. west of Aravali and east of Aravali. The net sown area is most important class of land use and contributes about half (17038 thousand hectare) of the total geographical area of the state. It plays a vital role in determining the agricultural prosperity in a sustainable manner. The net sown area also increased marginally over the years. Too large share or too small share of net sown area to geographical area is detrimental to sustainable agricultural development of a state/region. Unless we keep out natural resources intact, the sustainable development of the state in general and that of agricultural sector in particular would pose serious challenges in the years to come. In Rajasthan, 67% of area is affected by desertification and/or land degradation where the wind erosion (44.2%) is the maximum contributor followed by water (112%), vegetal degradation (6.25%) and salinization (1.07%). The problem of soil degradation is therefore, posing serious threat to the sustained agricultural production and jeopardizing food security not only for the present generation but also for the future generations. Degradation of the ecosystem particularly the land component and the consequential loss of productivity of this scarce resource would severely affect the livelihood of majority of human and livestock population. The resultant effects of the degradation are massive unemployment, migration of labour, regional and intergenerational disparities, loss of natural resource base and ecological imbalance.

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