Ecological survey calls for new policies to improve water efficiency in the agricultural sector

New Delhi, July 4 () The Met Department of India has projected less rains in some regions that could affect crop production in those areas, said the Economic Survey, and called for new policies to be formulated to improve the efficiency of water use. water in the agricultural sector.

Expressing concern that India will be in the global hot spot of water insecurity by 2050, he said that the focus on agriculture should move from land productivity to irrigation water productivity.

Therefore, designing policies to encourage farmers to adopt efficient forms of water use should become a national priority to avoid the water crisis that is coming, the survey added.

The Department of Meteorology of India (IMD) has forecast near the monsoon of the normal southwest this year. However, there was a 33% deficit in rainfall during June, which led to lower coverage of kharif crops. IMD has also said that the rains in July and August would be good.

The IMD has predicted that precipitation across the country will probably be almost normal this year. This should lead to an improvement in the growth of the agricultural sector.

However, according to the IMD, it is expected that some regions receive less than normal rains. This could be detrimental to crop production in certain affected areas, the survey said.

Noting that the country's agriculture relies heavily on water, the Economic Study said there is great concern about whether the current practice of groundwater use can be maintained as the depth of the groundwater level continues to decline.

About 89 percent of the groundwater extracted is used for irrigation and crops such as rice and sugarcane consume more than 60 percent of the irrigation water, he said.

The approach should move from the productivity of the land to the 'productivity of irrigation water'. Therefore, designing policies to encourage farmers to improve water use should become a national priority, he suggested.

The impetus should be in the micro-irrigation (MI) that can improve the efficiency of water use, according to the survey, suggesting that the government replace the subsidies to the IM that supports the cultivation pattern in view of the high cost of the installation.

A combination of measures, adapted to the local agro-economic context, should be applied to improve the productivity of irrigation in agriculture that reflects the sustainable use of water in agriculture, he said.

Noting that the response ratio of fertilizers has been decreasing over time, the survey indicated that techniques of organic and natural agriculture, including Natural Agriculture Zero Budget (ZBNF), can improve the efficiency of water use and soil fertility.

The adoption of appropriate technologies through the Customized Contracting Centers and the implementation of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are fundamental to improve the efficiency of the use of resources among small and marginal farmers, he said.

In addition, the diversification of livelihoods is essential for inclusive and sustainable development in agriculture and related sectors. Policies should focus on milk production, livestock breeding, especially for small ruminants and the fishing sector, he added.

When stating that the growth of the farmers sector was lower in 2018-19, the survey said that the participation of the agricultural sector in total Gross Value (GVA) has been constantly decreasing and now stands at 16.1 percent in the last fiscal year.

The agricultural sector had an investment rate much lower than half of that of the service and industrial sectors. According to the third advance estimate published by the Ministry of Agriculture, total cereal production during the period 2018-19 is estimated at 283.4 million tons, compared to 285 million tons in the 2017-18 crop (July-June). LUX MJH BAL