India needs to attain sustainability in agriculture by incorporating resource use efficiency as a culture in small holder farming. To achieve this a right combination of planning and implementation is required. Farming which is responsive to climate change and use resource efficient technologies should be the future of Indian agriculture.
Government of India is already focusing on such strategies. The aim is to accomplish SDGs and make efforts to ensure that farming is done in sustainable and water efficient manner. Agriculture is the biggest user of water. Water scarcity and depletion of water table in some parts of the country has put the spotlight on importance of water saving technology. The rate of groundwater extraction in India is so severe that its water table is depleting at a rate of 0.3 m per year. Rice, wheat, cotton and sugarcane together consume up to 70% of all the water that is used in agriculture. It is time we need to shift our focus towards measuring productivity per litre of water being used in agriculture.
To achieve Prime Minister’s vision of “har khet ko pani” the country should focus on better demand management by adapting smart and climate-resilient agricultural practices for water-deficient and water-abundant regions. An integrated agriculture water policy at the national level is imperative for ensuring sustainable water use and management in agriculture. To regulate and control water usage in country, policy makers should be able to make informed decisions.
This requires availability of ground level information to know the quantum of groundwater withdrawn and being recharged, annually. Therefore, there is a need to integrate data from all the water withdrawal points by fixing water meters and integrating them with a unified software solution. This will enable robust policy framework.
To remain competitive, farmers need rapid access to technology. Advanced irrigation solutions that can help farmers monitor their crops and help in irrigation planning will be required in the long run.
FICCI National Agriculture Committee accord high priority to sustainable and innovative approaches for water use in Agriculture. FICCI-PwC report ‘Creating an ecosystem for increasing water-use efficiency in agriculture’, will certainly improve understanding on how to build water efficient agriculture value chain, particularly in the context of future demand for water in agriculture.
The report highlights – smart cropping systems, technology adoption, governance institutions & frameworks, community participation and enabling policy ecosystem are key for ensuring sustainability in agricultural water management. As the need for practicing water-efficient agriculture grows, collaboration among key stakeholders with enhanced community participation would play an important role in its effective implementation.
The author is Chairman, FICCI National Agriculture Committee & Group President, TAFE Ltd