Globally, only 0.4 percent of total water on earth is at our disposal for meeting our needs. Fourteen percent of world population shares 53 percent of total water resources, while 86 percent of world population (including China, India) hares 47 percent of global water resources. India’s shares of world’s water resources are only 4 percent although it contributes
17 percent of world population.

Water resources are essential, inter alia, for life, livelihood and ecology. They are vital for economic development, and are also crucial for food security, national security and energy security. Given the estimated annual precipitation (including snowfall of 4000 BCM (billion cubic meter), only 1123 BCM water can be used for various purposes, comprising of 61 percent of surface water and the rest as ground water.

There are spatial and temporal variations of water availability. For example, 75 percent of rainfall in India occurs in 4 months with highest precipitation in North-East region and lowest in Rajasthan. The per capita availability of water resources is declining over the years, it is estimated to touch the water scarcity zone by 2050.

To support 1.7 billion population (2050), India will need 450 MT (Metric Tonnes) cereals. Status of irrigation potential is about 140 mha (million hectare) while actual realized irrigated area is far less, suggesting further scope of improvement through use of various measures. In addition, there is low productivity per unit use of water raising concern in the context of India’s growing population. For example, irrigation water withdrawal for rice production is 3.48 BCM/yr/mha (million hectare) while the same for Myanmar is much more efficient at 1.90 BCM/yr/mha. The crop yield in general is very low; for rainfed areas, it is about one tone/ha while for irrigation area,
the same is 2.5 tonnes/ha.

Steps for water Conservation

There is a need for increasing water use efficiency in all the sectors. There are many steps that could be adopted for water conservation in irrigation sector. These include:

• Proper and timely system maintenance
• Rehabilitation and restoration of damaged and silted canal system to enable it to carry designed discharge.
• Conjunctive use of surface and ground water, especially in areas where there is a threat to water logging.
• Revision of cropping pattern in the event of change in water availability.
• Constitution of water use associations and transfer of management to them.

Worldwide Initiatives

In World Water council (2000) envisions that about 50 percent of the increased agricultural demand by 2025 should be met by increasing productivity of water. The UN World water assessment programme also calls for enhancement of crop water productivity to reduce demand for new supply sources or increasing water mission of the government of India has set
a target of increasing water use efficiency by 20 percent as a part of national action plan on climate change. The government of India also launched PMKSY (Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana) with an aim to improve on farm water use efficiency to reduce wastage of water, enhance the adoption of precision irrigation as well as enhance recharge of ground water aquifers and sustainable water conservation practices.

Efficient water use in agricultural sector is a challenging task in Indian context as stakeholders involved are too many. The participation of such stakeholders in this effort would require collaboration with governments, civil societies, corporate bodies, financial institutional and others. There is a need for change of mindset of the stakeholders as well. There is also a need to have integrated solution for irrigation system such as introducing micro irrigation systems.

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Courtesy : Kurukshetra