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Remote Sens. 2010, 2(3), 758-776;

Decadal Variations in NDVI and Food Production in India

Division of Science and Environmental Policy, California State University Monterey Bay / NASA Ames Research Center, MS 242-4, Moffett Field, CA 94035, USA
Department of Geography and Environment, Boston University, 675 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, USA
Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Dr. Homi Bhabha Road, Pashan, Pune 411 008, India
Bay Area Environmental Research Institute / NASA Ames Research Center, MS 242-4, Moffett Field, CA 94035, USA
U. S. Geological Survey, 2255 N. Gemini Drive, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, USA
Intelligent Systems Division, NASA Ames Research Center, MS 269-4, Moffett Field, CA 94035, USA
Biospheric Science Branch, NASA Ames Research Center, MS 242-4, Moffett Field, CA 94035, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 December 2009 / Revised: 4 March 2010 / Accepted: 5 March 2010 / Published: 11 March 2010
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Global Croplands)
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In this study we use long-term satellite, climate, and crop observations to document the spatial distribution of the recent stagnation in food grain production affecting the water-limited tropics (WLT), a region where 1.5 billion people live and depend on local agriculture that is constrained by chronic water shortages. Overall, our analysis shows that the recent stagnation in food production is corroborated by satellite data. The growth rate in annually integrated vegetation greenness, a measure of crop growth, has declined significantly (p < 0.10) in 23% of the WLT cropland area during the last decade, while statistically significant increases in the growth rates account for less than 2%. In most countries, the decade-long declines appear to be primarily due to unsustainable crop management practices rather than climate alone. One quarter of the statistically significant declines are observed in India, which with the world’s largest population of food-insecure people and largest WLT croplands, is a leading example of the observed declines. Here we show geographically matching patterns of enhanced crop production and irrigation expansion with groundwater that have leveled off in the past decade. We estimate that, in the absence of irrigation, the enhancement in dry-season food grain production in India, during 1982–2002, would have required an increase in annual rainfall of at least 30% over almost half of the cropland area. This suggests that the past expansion of use of irrigation has not been sustainable. We expect that improved surface and groundwater management practices will be required to reverse the recent food grain production declines. View Full-Text
Keywords: GIMMS NDVI; water-limited tropics; agricultural production; climate; irrigation GIMMS NDVI; water-limited tropics; agricultural production; climate; irrigation

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Milesi, C.; Samanta, A.; Hashimoto, H.; Kumar, K.K.; Ganguly, S.; Thenkabail, P.S.; Srivastava, A.N.; Nemani, R.R.; Myneni, R.B. Decadal Variations in NDVI and Food Production in India. Remote Sens. 2010, 2, 758-776.

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