The Union Ministry of Water Resources estimates that unless remedial measures are taken, acute scarcity of groundwater availability may grip many parts of the country in the near future. "Several blocks in Haryana and Punjab may absolutely run out of groundwater, not just for irrigation, but even for drinking purposes over the next 15 to 20 years if remedial measures are not taken," says U.P. Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources.
Speaking at the inaugural function of the four-day Global Agriculture Summit, 2019, organised by Indian Chamber of Food and Agriculture in Delhi on Tuesday, Singh said that water footprint will be as vital as carbon footprint in the future discourse of development globally.
"Generally people say green revolution happened through irrigation, but I would say it happened through tube wells as there are today about 30 million structures (to draw groundwater across the country). Groundwater exploitation in India is 25 per cent of the total groundwater extracted all over the world. For instance, 80 per cent of the land in Uttar Pradesh is irrigated by tube wells. Similarly, 77 per cent of Punjab's water for agriculture comes from groundwater; 85 per cent of India's drinking water needs are met by groundwater," Singh said. "Our aquifers are either getting polluted or getting dry. Similarly, due to climate change, rainfall pattern has become so skewed and erratic than it has ever been. Water conservation becomes very important under such circumstances," he explained.
Singh said that European buyers are using the water footprint benchmark as the parameter for deciding on trade. Therefore, sensitisation on water footprint shall be the determinant for the export strength of Indian agricultural produce and products. According to him, the time is fast approaching where Indians shall have to collectively undertake water budgeting to address the concerns of water scarcity. Water budgeting shall be useful for farmers too so that groundwater and other water resources are not depleted to alarming levels.
Ashok Dalwai, CEO NRAA and Chairman, Taskforce on Doubling Farmers Incomes, said India needs a strong focus on food supply chain management, and building global and efficient supply chains. Dalwai said that global dependence on fossil fuels shall have to end, and biological production systems were the solution to this challenge and create a circular economy for mankind.
Setting the tone of the fourth Global Agriculture Summit, M J Khan, Chairman ICFA, said that the industry-farmer partnership is essential for farmer prosperity. He said that these partnerships will catalyse growth in agriculture and export focus will lead to price stability and improve the entire value chain.