• Sanskriti IAS - अखिल मूर्ति के निर्देशन में
7428 085 757
(Contact Number)
9555 124 124
(Missed Call Number)

Intensive agriculture led to unsustainable groundwater use

  • 27th April, 2021

(MAINS GS 3 : Agriculture: Major cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers) 

 Context:

  • India is the second-largest producer of wheat in the world, with over 30 million hectares in the country dedicated to producing this crop.
  • But with severe groundwater depletion, the cropping intensity or the amount of land planted in the winter season may decrease by up to 20% by 2025.
  • Some of the important winter crops are wheat, barley, mustard and peas.

The key findings:

  • The international team studied India’s three main irrigation types on winter cropped areas: dug wells, tube wells, canals, and also analysed the groundwater data from the Central Ground Water Board. 
  • They found that 13% of the villages in which farmers plant a winter crop are located in critically water-depleted regions. 
  • The team writes that these villages may lose 68% of their cropped area in future if access to all groundwater irrigation is lost. 
  • The results suggest that these losses will largely occur in northwest and central India. 

Alternative sources:

  • A recent study  looked at canals to understand if they can be promoted as an alternative irrigation source and as an adaptation strategy to falling groundwater tables.
  •  But the results showed that “switching to canal irrigation has limited adaptation potential at the national scale. 
  • Even if all regions that are currently using depleted groundwater for irrigation will switch to using canal irrigation, cropping intensity may decline by 7% nationally.

Unsuited soils:

  • Experts from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, New Delhi, explains more about the problems wheat farmers face in our country. 
  • According to them, there are several first-generation (productivity) and second-generation (sustainability) problems. 
  • In the green revolution era, policy-supported environment led to a large increase in rice cultivation in northwestern India mainly in Punjab and Haryana which are ecologically less suitable for rice cultivation due to predominantly light soils.
  •  This policy-supported intensive agriculture led to unsustainable groundwater use for irrigation and in turn groundwater scarcity. 
  • There was also post-harvest residue burning to make way for the timely sowing of wheat. 

Poor infrastructure:

  • There are enough groundwater resources supported with higher monsoon rainfall in eastern Indian states like Bihar. 
  • But due to lack of enough irrigation infrastructure, farmers are not able to make use of natural resources there.
  • Thus, the country needs better policies in eastern India to expand irrigation and increase agricultural productivity. This will also release some pressure from northwestern Indian states. 

Conclusion: 

For less groundwater depletion and sustainable agriculture, India needs to adopt water-saving technologies like a sprinkler, drip irrigation along with less water intensive crops especially in areas of limited groundwater resources. 

CONNECT WITH US!

X
Classroom Courses Details Online Courses Details Pendrive Courses Details PT Test Series 2021 Details