Right usage of water is becoming increasingly important given the fact that India currently supports nearly 17.84 per cent of the world population, with 2.4 per cent land and 4 per cent of water resources. At the same time, monsoon is also becoming erratic. The resultant is alarming fall in groundwater levels placing the National Food Security Mission at risk. Plasticulture – the use of plastics in agriculture, horticulture, water-management, foodgrains storage and related areas, provides an answer to this challenge. It can play an important role in facilitating judicious usage of water. It is estimated that appropriate applications of micro-irrigation technologies can result in water saving up to 50-70 percent.
There is therefore a need to encourage the Plasticulture sector to enable it to realise its potential and contribute to the national economy. Application of micro irrigation and drip irrigation can help in increasing productivity by 30 to 100 per cent with significant saving of water. Fertiliser use efficiency also gets enhanced.
According to a FICCI -Tata Strategic Management Group (TSMG) report on the potential of plasticulture, India is at a crucial juncture when it needs to tackle the issue of food security by optimising the use of resources, which traditionally has been taken for granted. Plasticulture is a viable solution for India, to launch second Green Revolution. The paucity of water, lower productivity and inefficient use of fertiliser leading to higher carbon footprint can all be taken care by efficient use of Plasticulture.
On the demand side, awareness about the possible benefits and subsidies available could help in the adoption of technology.
On the supply side, effort needs to go in creating the awareness through demonstration, build credibility by post-installation management, technology advancement to bring down the capital cost and develop viable bio-degradable alternatives thereby improving the productivity while reducing the carbon footprint.
The report notes that the Government needs to create an environment by promoting the Plasticulture by easy and efficient sanction of subsidies and promoting investments by allocating a share of agriculture budget to R&D. It is important to leverage the knowledge bank, which exists in the Indian institutes and tacit understanding of extension services today, to develop tailored solutions as per the local conditions and while also incorporate learning from other economies. The concentrated effort would ensure that the growth rate remains sustainable in following years, as the current penetration level are quite low. With a systematic industry approach supported by policies and government, a second Green Revolution could be triggered.