Rice in India : A Status Paper


The problems/constraints in rice production vary from state to state and area to area. The major rice growing areas are concentrated in Eastern region and this region is generally experiences high rainfall and severe flood almost every year. The loss to the rice crop is considerably very high. Besides, in upland areas the crop gets setback either from high rainfall or drought condition. It has also been observed that certain category of soils do not give the desired yield response to the balanced application of N.P.K. fertilizers. The main reasons for this lack of response to the application of balanced fertilizers are associated with certain inherent characters of the soil. All these problems/constraints are affecting the productivity of the rice crops in different growing zones. In certain area, the availability of suitable high yielding varieties and quality seeds are also a problem. These problems/constraints are discussed below :-


  1. About 78% of the farmers are small and marginal in the country and they are poor in resource. Therefore, they are not in a position to use optimum quantity of inputs in their crops which are essential for increasing the productivity.
  2. Often rice crop suffers with soil moisture stress due to erratic and inadequate rainfall. In upland soils rain water flows down quickly and farmers are not able to conserve the soil moisture. There is also no facility for life saving irrigation particularly in upland and drought prone rainfed lowland areas.
  3. Intermittent soil moisture stress, due to low and erratic rainfall and poor soil problems are in Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and some parts of Uttar Pradesh. The problems of flash floods, water logging/ submergence due to poor drainage, low-lying physiography and high rainfall in submergence prone lowlands are in Assam, West Bengal, North Bihar and Eastern Uttar Pradesh. Accumulation of toxic decomposition products in ill drained soils and soil iron toxicity in Assam are problems of low production of rice.
  4. Continuous use of traditional varieties due to the non-availability of seeds and farmers lack of awareness about high yielding varieties (Upland, rainfed lowland and deep water areas).
  5. Low soil fertility due to soil erosion resulting in loss of plant nutrients and moisture.
  6. Low and imbalanced use of fertilizers, low use efficiency of applied fertilizers particularly in the North-Eastern and Eastern States.
  7. Heavy infestation of weeds and insects/pests such as blast and brown spot and poor attention for their timely control (upland and rainfed lowland).
  8. Poor crop plant population in case of broadcast sowing method resulting in uneven germination (upland and direct seeded lowlands) . Delay in monsoon onset often results in delayed and prolong transplanting and sub-optimum plant population (Mostly in rainfed lowlands).
  9. Poor adoption of improved crop production technology due to economic backwardness of the farmers (upland and lowlands).
  10. Non-availability of bullock drawn or power drawn transplanter for timely transplanting of rice crop.
  11. In upland rainfed rice crop is grown under rainfed conditions, the growth is mostly dependent on the vagaries of the monsoon. In the years of scanty or adverse distribution of rainfall, the crop fails owing to drought and in the years of heavy rainfall, particularly during blossoming, there is poor grain setting and also the matured grains germinate on the panicles.
  12. In the high-rainfall region, the rain-water is lost rapidly through deep percolation, because of the upland location and loose texture of the soil. In these soils the plant nutrients applied through fertilizers are also lost rapidly and investment on fertilizers becomes risky. Further, low water retention capacity by the soil due to high permeability brings in moisture stress condition quickly after the cessation of rains.
  13. In the low-rainfall regions, the crop suffers from iron and zinc deficiency in some soils, in the high-rainfall regions, diseases break out particularly Helminthosporium possibly due to unbalanced nutrient availability in the soils.
  14. Generally, upland rice crop becomes ready for harvesting earlier in the season, there is much damage due to birds and rodents.
  15. In acid, red laterite and lateritic soils, the following problems are encountered : -
    • Moderate to high acidity
    • Deficiency of nutrients, because of there soils are low in C, N and available nutrients.
    • Toxicity due to iron and in some soils due to aluminum and manganese.
    • P- deficiency and high P-fixing capacity which necessitate higher rates of application of P-fertilizers
    • Impeded drainage in certain areas.
  16. The acid sulphate soils have been reported to occur on the west coast of Kerala. These soils are locally known as Kari, Karapadam, Kole, Pokkali and Swamp soils, depending upon their location. The presence of substantial amounts of organic matter in these soil results in the accumulation of large amounts of ammonical nitrogen, particularly in the ‘‘Pokkali” and ‘‘Swamp” soils, which might also prove toxic for the growth of rice plant. These soils contain low amount of phosphate and are likely to show up phosphate deficiency.
  17. Saline and alkali soils mostly occur in the coastal districts of West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat. The problems of saline and alkali soils are given below :
    • osmotic effect due to high concentration of salts in the saline and saline-alkali soils.
    • difficulty in removal of salts by flushing from these lands in the coastal region because of heavy texture of the soil, lack of freshwater source, particularly in the north-western India, recharge of the salt from sub-surface to the surface soil due to capillary rise and periodic inundation with sea water.
    • toxicity due to high pH and due to the presence of sodium either as carbonate or as bicarbonate in the alkali or saline-alkali soils.
    • highly dispersed soil under alkaline or saline-alkali situation, where drainage becomes a problem.


The scope for expansion of area under rice cultivation has almost been exhausted, the only way to sustain production for meeting the increasing demand, is to increase the productivity per unit of area including intensive use of land by increasing the cropping intensity. The following strategies may be adopted to increase the productivity of rice in various states.

  1. Emphasis may be given on a cropping system approach rather than a single crop development approach.
  2. Propagation of location specific crop production technologies in different agro-climatic zones through demonstrations on farmers fields and organizing of trainings for farmers including women in improved crop production technology.
  3. Replacement of low potential/pest susceptible old varieties by new high yielding varieties with promising yield potential. Also encouraging cultivation of hybrid rice through demonstrations and making seed available to the farmers.
  4. Adoption of run-off rain water management practices suited to the conditions of individual farm holding as well as watershed as a whole, motivating the farmers to provide life saving irrigation to the crop wherever possible during long dry spells.
  5. Improving soil fertility by inclusion of leguminous crops in the crop rotations or as mixed crop.
  6. Encouraging the use of soil ameliorants for improving saline, alkaline and acidic soils.
  7. Emphasis on balanced use of plant nutrients along with the popularization of integrated plant management system, use of zinc sulphate in zinc deficient areas and method of applying required nutrients in standing water e.g. neem cake coated urea, fertilizer mud balls, deep placement of super granules urea by the applicator.
  8. Use of bio-fertilizer such as Blue-Green Algae, Azosprillum, Azotobacter and Azolla may be encouraged for supply of nitrogen to the crop and also phospho-bacteria may be used for solubilizing non available phosphorus to available form easy uptake by the crop plants.
  9. Popularization of line sowing in upland rice areas through suitable seeding devices establishment of desired level of plant population, easy in weed control and the application of other management techniques.
  10. Encouraging the use of machines as well as bullock drawn and hand operated implements.
  11. Promoting the Integrated Pest Management Approach for effective control of pests and diseases by emphasizing the need based application of pesticides.
  12. More emphasis on the adoption of non-monetary inputs like timely sowing, maintaining optimum plant population, timely irrigation, efficient use of fertilizers, need based plant protection measures and timely harvesting of crop.