The Top 100 questions for the sustainable intensification of agriculture in India's rainfed drylands

Zareen Pervez Bharucha*, Simon Attwood, Shrinivas Badiger, Arun Balamatti, Richard Bawden, Jeffery W. Bentley, Mahesh Chander, Leonora Davies, Harry Dixon, John Dixon, Marcella D'Souza, Cornelia Butler Flora, Michael Green, Deepa Joshi, Adam M. Komarek, Lesley Ruth McDermid, Erik Mathijs, Agnes C. Rola, Sasmita Patnaik, Sandip PattanayakPrabhu Pingali, V. P. Vara Prasad, Rudy Rabbinge, G. V. Ramanjaneyulu, N. H. Ravindranath, Colin Sage, Amrita Saha, Ceccarelli Salvatore, Lopamudra Patnaik Saxena, Chandni Singh, Pete Smith, Arjuna Srinidhi, Rudresh Sugam, Richard Thomas, Norman Uphoff, Jules Pretty

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


India has the largest area of rainfed dryland agriculture globally, with a variety of distinct types of farming systems producing most of its coarse cereals, food legumes, minor millets, and large amounts of livestock. All these are vital for national and regional food and nutritional security. Yet, the rainfed drylands have been relatively neglected in mainstream agricultural and rural development policy. As a result, significant social-ecological challenges overlap in these landscapes: endemic poverty, malnutrition and land degradation. Sustainable intensification of dryland agriculture is essential for helping to address these challenges, particularly in the context of accelerating climate change. In this paper, we present 100 questions that point to the most important knowledge gaps and research priorities. If addressed, these would facilitate and inform sustainable intensification in Indian rainfed drylands, leading to improved agricultural production and enhanced ecosystem services. The horizon scanning method used to produce these questions brought together experts and practitioners involved in a broad range of disciplines and sectors. This exercise resulted in a consolidated set of questions covering the agricultural drylands, organized into 13 themes. Together, these represent a collective programme for new cross- and multi-disciplinary research on sustainable intensification in the Indian rainfed drylands.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)106-127
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Agricultural Sustainability
Issue number2
Early online date27 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

We extend grateful thanks to all the colleagues who have responded thoughtfully to our call for questions and canvassed their professional networks to ensure input from a wide range of stakeholders. The lead author extends thanks to Anglia Ruskin University for supporting two Undergraduate placements, providing essential research assistance for the project. The authors thank anonymous reviewers for their comments on the paper, which have significantly strengthened the manuscript.


  • Drylands
  • India
  • rainfed agriculture
  • sustainable intensification


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