Excerpt from “Simple Alternate Development Strategy”
In 1990, out of 1350 million ha of arable land in the world, irrigation was provided to 237 million ha i.e. 17.56% of the arable land was irrigated. China had provided irrigation to 48 million ha which formed 51.61% of the total arable land, while India had provided irrigation to only 43 million ha which accounts for only 26.06% of the total arable land. Former USSR, USA, Brazil, Australia and Canada had provided irrigation to 21 million ha (9.33%) , 19 million ha ( 10.10 % ), 2.7 million ha (4.5%) 1.9 million ha (3.87%) and 0.9 million ha( 1.96%) of land respectively. While India appears to have done well in providing irrigation compared to countries like former USSR, USA, Canada etc. these are the countries with large areas and comparatively low population and except Brazil, those which receive lesser rainfall than India. On the contrary , many countries like Pakistan, Japan, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, South Korea, North Korea and Vietnam had provided irrigation to a larger proportion of their arable land. The area under irrigation in these countries is: Pakistan 16.5 million ha of 20.3 million ha (81.28%), Japan 2.8 million ha out of 4.6 million ha (60.86%) , Indonesia 7.6 million ha out of 16.0 million ha (47.5%), Iran 5.8 million ha out of 14.1 million ha (41.13%), Iraq 2.6 million ha out of 5.3 million ha (49.05%), South Korea 1.4 million ha out of 2.0 million ha (70.0%), North Korea 1.4 million ha out of 1.7 million ha (83.52%) and Vietnam 1.8 million ha out of 5.7 million ha (31.5%). These figures show that land irrigated in India is far below the potential. This is reflected in the lower yield and production, as will be clear from the succeeding paragraphs.