India has recorded high levels of unemployment and low labor force participation rates in recent years even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown. How does an episode of unemployment or loss of income affect household consumption expenditure is an important question for designing effective safety nets.

While outlining strategies to increase availability of pulses at affordable prices, it is argued that increasing domestic production of pulses is the only option. Access to one or two protective irrigation sources during the growing season can lead to sizeable increases in pulse production. The har khet ko paani initiative should give priority to pulse-producing areas. The minimum support price, without procurement, helps traders more than farmers because it acts as a focal point for tacit collusion among traders.

The Green Revolution bypassed Bihar in its first wave in the 1960s and 1970s. Subsequently, during a short interval in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the agricultural growth rate reached almost 3 percent per year, one of the highest in the country, though over a smaller base.

Groundwater, which has emerged as India's prime adaptive mechanism in times of drought, will play a crucial role this year since the aquifers were recharged in 2006-08. The impact of the drought of 2009 will therefore be less severe than the drought of 2002. Beyond the immediate response, we need to think long term. Instead of pumping money into dams and canals, Indian agriculture will be better off investing in "groundwater banking". This involves storing surplus flood waters in aquifers which can be drawn upon in times of need.