The paper by the Challenge Programme on Water and Food (CPWF) - Basin Focal Project provides a brief situation analysis related to water, agriculture & poverty, water resources, water productivity, institutional aspects and opportunities & risks related to the development of the Indo-Gangetic basin (IGB). Management of IGB water resources presents some formidable challenges and, therefore, steps must be taken towards integrated management of the IGB’s water and land resources in order to ensure the future sustainability of all production and ecosystems in the basin.
The Indo-Gangetic basin presents both great opportunities and serious challenges for the water and agriculture-centric poverty reduction interventions -
- One of the main opportunities in the large part of the Ganges basin is that in spite of adequate water and land resources, the productivity levels are exceptionally low and can be potentially enhanced through suitable physical, economic and policy interventions.
- Multiple water use systems through integration of crops, horticulture, aquaculture, livestock and other water-centric livelihood options offer a great opportunity for improving agriculture and water productivity and thus improving the livelihoods.
- Though a large part of the Indus basin has reasonable levels of agricultural productivity, it is largely supported through government subsidies (water, energy, fertilizers) but still does not make great margins for the farmers as the production systems are highly grain dominated with little opportunities for value-addition and diversification.
- Moreover, the present production systems are also supported by the over-exploitation of groundwater resources, which in the long run are hydrologically and economically unsustainable.
- A substantial part of the Indus basin in both India and Pakistan also suffers from geogenic and secondary salinity & alkalinity and water-logging problems. These require individual & community interventions and supportive policy instruments for implementing sustainable solutions for productivity improvements under such environments.
- Rainfed agriculture regions, especially in the upper catchments have also received inadequate attention in the past, and have good opportunities for value-added agriculture.
- Land use, cropping and water use patterns are changing, partly as responses to changing demographic and consumption patterns, and partly as responses to changing investment scenarios and economic growth.
- Potential future interventions must take cognizance of the existing opportunities and challenges for development to meet the ever-increasing water and food demands of a vast population of the Indo-Gangetic basin.
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