The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and Jain Irrigation Systems launched ‘Resource Centre on Water Use Efficiency’ in New Delhi. The resource centre will work on efficient use of water in agriculture, as the sector accounts for about 85 percent of the total water consumption as well as more than 25 percent of electricity consumption. India ranks among the leading producers of rice, wheat, cotton, sugarcane, farmed fish, sheep and goat meat, fruit, vegetables and tea in the world with just four percent of world’s fresh water resources. The country needs to find sustainable solutions to cater to 17 percent of the world’s population.
The speakers deliberated on micro-irrigation techniques as one of the solutions available to solve the challenge of improving irrigation efficiency. These techniques optimize the use of water and energy, while ensuring better crop yields as compared to conventional practices. With the goal envisaged by the National Water Mission to enhance water use efficiency by 20 percent, adoption of micro-irrigation techniques could pave the way for future water security and reduce inter-sectoral conflicts for water demand, the participants said during the discussion. This has the potential to further contribution to the food and energy security in the country. Enhancing water use efficiency through micro-irrigation techniques would contribute to environmental sustainability, by saving water, reducing drainage hazard, and reducing farm inputs among other benefits, the speakers said.
Expansion of irrigation facilities through the creation of infrastructure and covering large un-irrigated land has significantly contributed to the first Green Revolution, leading to an increase in agricultural yields over the last few decades. But considering the variability in rainfall patterns, irrigation and its effectiveness remains a challenge for sustainable agriculture, felt the participants. However, water use efficiency in Indian agriculture, which is largely dominated by flood method of irrigation, has been low.
Irrigation efficiency is generally expressed in terms of irrigation system performance, uniformity of the water application, response of the crop to irrigation, and these measures are critical for water use efficiency in terms of the water required to irrigate a field. The performance of Indian agriculture has been low for all the three measures of irrigation efficiency. Simultaneously, over-exploitation of groundwater for irrigation and a huge gap between irrigation potential created and utilized, have further aggravated the problem of water scarcity as well as the cost-effectiveness of the agriculture sector.