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Reviving knowledge: India’s rainfed farming, variability and diversity

More than two thirds of India’s arable land is under rainfed farming. Local and national authorities, public sector agricultural research and extension, and commercial ventures are designed to supply ‘one-size-fits-all’ technologies, inputs and advice through uniform administrative apparatus or market protocols. This approach limits their capacity to work with the diversity and variability of rainfed agriculture. But with support that complements the variable nature of rainfed farming tracts, communities can improve farm productivity and sustainability. We present the case study of a farming community reclaiming its knowledge of variability through the revival of mixed cropping and millet production. We argue that decentralised support, with public investments appropriate to each agro-ecological system, is necessary for more communities to follow this lead.

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