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Nature volume 127, pages 381383 (07 March 1931) | Download Citation

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Food Supply of India.—In the presidential address delivered to the agricultural section at the seventeenth meeting of the Indian Science Congress at Allahabad (Calcutta: Asiatic Society of Bengal), G. Clarke discussed the necessity of increasing the food supply to meet the needs of the growing population in India. From a consideration of the agricultural returns for 1922–23 and 1925–26, it is evident that the area available for food production in India is 1.2 acres per unit population, whereas in America and France, countries comparable with India as regards the importance of agriculture, the corresponding figures are 2.6 and 2.3 respectively. The amount of new land in India suitable for cultivation is no longer sufficient to provide the increased area required, so that the solution of the problem lies in increasing the yield of the land already in use. Weather conditions and the shortness of the growing season are the chief difficulties confronting the agriculturist, but the use of modern methods of research, and in particular a closer study of the critical periods of crops, that is, those intervals during which the plant shows maximum sensibility to external factors such as moisture or nitrogen supplies, should do much towards the attainment of better results. Further, green manuring is particularly advocated as an economical means for soil improvement and the maintenance of an adequate nitrogen supply. From a comparison of conditions in other countries and analogy with the progress of the sugarcane industry in India, it is possible to obtain a rough estimate of the increased production likely to follow the application of scientific methods to agriculture. After making due allowance for the inevitable lag in the adoption of improvements, and taking into consideration the abundant labour resources and responsive nature of the soil in India, it is thought that within the next two or three decades an increased output of 30 per cent in normal seasons may reasonably be expected. Increased expenditure on scientific research is, however, assumed.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/127381a0

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