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Water Consumption Disparity: Indian Agriculture Uses 2-3 Times More Water per Ton of Crop Says Prof. Ramesh Chand, Niti Aayog

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22 March 2024, New Delhi: India accounts for only 2.4% of the world’s land and 4% of water, but instead of a land crisis, a vast stretch of the country is facing a water crisis, particularly in the agriculture sector. Wastage of resources in irrigation projects, faulty crop patterns, wrong technique of crop cultivation, and preferences for water-intensive crops like rice and off-season vegetables have aggravated the problem. The situation requires immediate attention and focus on precision agriculture and the adoption of modern technologies to combat the situation. 

“India uses 2-3 times more water for producing 1 ton of crop compared to several developed and developing nations. The area under cultivation has increased but mostly for Rabi crops, when it mostly does not rain. This needs to change and state governments in particular need to promote cultivation according to local environmental and geographical conditions,” said Prof. Ramesh Chand, Member, Niti Aayog, while delivering a keynote speech at a function organized in New Delhi on the occasion of World Water Day 2024 by Dhanuka Group.  

Highlighting the plight of the country’s irrigation infrastructure before 2015, Prof. Ramesh Chand further said, “Between 1995 and 2015, billions of rupees were invested on irrigation projects – medium and major, but the area under irrigation remained stagnant. It required an overhaul and since 2015, the Central Government changed the approach. As a result, the area under irrigation has increased by 1% every year from last few years taking it from 47% to 55% now.” 

Emphasizing less investment-intensive methods to increase the area under irrigation using the same amount of water, Dr. P. K. Singh, Agriculture Commissioner of the Government of India said, “In collaboration with Jal Shakti ministry, we are exploring ways to maximize usage of surface water. For example, if the water of a canal is presently irrigating 100 hectares of agricultural land, how can we take it to 150 hectares using various means but the same amount of water.”

Dr. R. C. Agrawal, Deputy Director General (Agricultural Education), ICAR stressed the need to educate farmers and youths about the right water usage in the agriculture sector. “We are designing a course that will make them aware of water usage in the agriculture sector and offer solutions,” said Dr. Agrawal.

Earlier setting the tone for the event, Mr. R. G. Agarwal, Chairman, Dhanuka Group strongly advocated the adoption of modern technologies for agricultural purposes. 

“Around 70% of water is used for agriculture purposes. The usage of modern technologies like drones, sprinklers, drip irrigation and water sensors would help reduce the requirement of water for agriculture purposes significantly. It will also help in reducing water wastage to a large extent,” he said. 

Citing an example of drone application, Mr. R. G. Agarwal further added, “Pesticide spray on 1 acre of land via drone requires just about 10 liters of water as against 200 liters in the traditional method. The saving of water is just enormous courtesy of modern techniques. Setting up a weather station at the panchayat level will also help reduce water requirements substantially. Countries like Israel have already demonstrated the benefits of precision agriculture including a modern irrigation system. We as a country too need to adopt precision farming in a big way, which will not only result in saving water, but will also help enhance crop quality, production, and profitability of farmers, a goal that the Government is keen to achieve. ”

Terming the water a solution for the conflicts, Dr. Rajvir Sharma, Chairman Delhi Regional Chapter, IIPA said, “We are surrounded by various types of conflicts, such as food security, livelihood security, inter-governmental conflicts and conflicts between nations or states, for which water can be used as a tool of prevention of conflicts.”

Also Read: FMC Launches Arc™ Farm Intelligence Platform in India

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