Water and agriculture are closely linked in our country where 60% our net sown area is rain-fed. Indian agriculture is undoubtedly dependent on the monsoon where good rains have meant enhanced agricultural production, and a weak or bad monsoon has lowered production thereby impacting the economy.
However, the rains are both uncertain and unevenly distributed in time and space across the country. The amount of rainfall varies from less than 500 mm in districts of western Rajasthan to more than 1,500 mm in the Northeast.
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted below normal rainfall during the upcoming monsoon. This warning has led the administration to take some steps to prepare for the scenario. The situation is more important this year because the impact of the poor monsoon will coincide with the formation of a new government and the incumbent government will face the mammoth task of addressing the challenge, against the background of rising prices.
To prevent the agriculture sector from being affected by drought, various low cost innovations which can reduce the usage of water for the production of cereals – rice and wheat, have been undertaken. In Punjab, the use of low cost tensiometer has achieved significant water savings to the tune of 12-15 %. There are plans to introduce low cost and convenient soil moisture sensors which will provide accurate estimation of soil moisture for farmers to irrigate their fields.
In Gujarat, pilot testing the use of GW-11, a drought-resistant variety has come up with initial findings that indicate lesser irrigation requirements.
These low cost innovations not only reduce water usage in agriculture but also make farmers less vulnerable to changes in climate, in particular the monsoon. The success lies in designing simple solutions which have the potential for wider adoption.
The authors are working as Director and Deputy Director respectively at Centers for International Projects Trust. Download the entire article below.