India's per capita water availability will decrease further, says DG ICAR
New Delhi, September 5 () It is estimated that India's per capita water availability will decrease further to 1,465 cubic meters by 2025, a senior official of the agricultural research agency ICAR said Thursday underlining the need to use technology and crop diversification to reduce water consumption.
ICAR also announced that it is working on a mechanism to suggest crop planning for India under which farmers would be recommended which crop will be grown in the amount of area.
In informing the media about water management in the agricultural sector, the Director General of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), T Mohapatra, said that the annual availability of water per capita has decreased to 1,508 cubic meters in 2014 from 5,177 cubic meters in 1951.
It is estimated that the availability of water per capita will decrease further to 1,465 cubic meters by 2025 and 1,235 cubic meters by 2050. If it decreases further to around 1,000-1,100 cubic meters, then India could be declared as a country with water scarcity, he warned. .
In such a scenario, Mohapatra feared there might be fights between different states over water and even within states.
Of the total 140 million hectares of net planted area, only 48.8 percent is under irrigation and the rest is rainfed, he added. Of the net irrigation area of 68.38 million hectares, about 60 percent is irrigated through groundwater.
There is a need to reduce water consumption in the agricultural sector. We can produce more even with less water. The prime minister has asked for more harvest per drop, Mohapatra said.
He said a group of secretaries had asked ICAR to work on crop planning for the entire country.
This will help to recommend which crop is going to be grown in the amount of area in a district, Mohapatra said, adding that it will take a year to achieve such crop planning.
The two ICAR agencies, the National Institute for Agricultural Policy and Economics Research and the Indian Institute for Agricultural Systems Research in Modipuram, Meerut, are working on this crop planning mechanism, he added.
Crop planning would be based on local climatic conditions, water availability and the general supply and demand situation, and could help the government plan its incentives so that farmers adopt those recommended crops, DG said.
Calling the likely water shortage a serious problem, Mohapatra said that ICAR has launched a campaign to educate farmers about the proper use of water in their fields from July 1 to October 15. He said that 10 lakh farmers have already been reached through their Krishi Vigyan Kendras and that the plan is to reach another 5 lakh farmers.
He said there is a need to double the area under micro irrigation of the current level of 9 million hectares. For this to be achieved, farmers must introduce themselves.
Mohapatra said flood irrigation results in waste of water and energy, in addition to reducing fertilizer efficiency.
The ICAR DG also stressed the need to schedule the irrigation process and said that technologies such as the humidity sensor and other software are available to achieve this.
He said the technologies are not expensive and their applications would help reduce the cost of inputs.
Mohapatra also talked about the constructive use of water, especially groundwater, the collection of rainwater and the use of wastewater in irrigation.
Emphasizing crop diversification, he said: There is a need for change in crops. If there is less water, those crops should be grown to drink less water and advocated the cultivation of oilseeds and coarse grains and legumes that drink less water.
The ICAR DG said that wheat and rice production is important for the country's food security, but this could be achieved by increasing yield and not the area.
When asked about water measurement, Mohapatra said that this would definitely act as a deterrent and reduce consumption, but added that this is the government's decision. Mjh MJH ANU ANU