Scientific Water Management Will Enhance Water Security: ICAR

ICAR has been directed to work on Crop Plan for India to conserve water and avoid wastage by old agricultural practices

One of India’s oldest agricultural institute, Indian Council of Agricultural Research highlighted the modern irrigation technologies that can help in ensuring water security while maintaining high agricultural productivity. ICAR DG, Mr Mohapatra during a press briefing meet in Delhi, added that scheduling irrigation, constructive use of water, proper crop selection.

The recommendation came after the body declared that India’s per capita availability of water is projected to decrease to 1,465 cubic meters by 2025. The estimates draw a scary picture, if the water levels continue to fall around 1,100 cubic meters, the entire country can be declared as water-stressed. During the press brief, the ICAR official informed, the water levels have plummeted from 5, 177 Cubic meters in 1950-51, to 1,508 cubic meters by 2014-15.

Talking about water conservation methods, he added that about 35-40% water could be saved and 20-25% reduction in fertilizer use could be ensured by the scheduling of irrigation. Moisture sensors and automated irrigation systems which can be controlled by a farmer using a mobile phone will help in deciding the time and amount of irrigation to be carried out. Constructive use of water, which includes use of recycled water and proper selection of crops, also helps in enhancing water security. Alternatives like the cultivation of Fruits, Millets, Bajra and selection of proper varieties of crops also ensure constructive utilization of water. Using Bio mulch and Hydro Gels which ensures a slow release of water and utilizing microbes that help in the efficient absorption of water shall help in further ensuring reduced and proper utilization of water in agriculture.

According to the official statement, over 10.8 crore farmers have been trained through the Krishi Vigyan Kendras and 371 melas were conducted across the country from July 1st till date, after initiation of Jal Shakti Abhiyan.

There is a desperate need to lower the water intake by agriculture. According to ICAR, out of the total 140 million hectares of net sown area in India, only 48.8 % is under irrigation and rest is rainfed, he added. Of the net irrigated area of 68.38 million hectares, about 60 percent is irrigated through groundwater. He also put an impetus on micro-irrigation to increase from a current level of 9 million hectares and asked farmers to come forward.

Group of secretaries wants ICAR to come up with a Crop Plan for the entire country. This will entail which crop is most suited for which area (district wise), local climate conditions, water availability, soil type and the demand and supply of crops. The plan will help government incentivize farmers who follow through. It plans to come up with this plan in one year, Mohapatra added.

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