WATER IN AGRICULTURE
India is home to over 600 million farmers who collectively produce around 10% of the world's crops. They primarily irrigate their crops with shallow wells or deeper tube wells that draw water from within the ground. Over the past several decades, aquifers have been severely depleted largely because of farming. 85% of our farmers are smallholder farmers and own less than 2 hectares of land for their livelihood. At the nexus of their future and livelihood is water stress which is estimated to reduce the income of a smallholder farmer by a whopping 25% and account for a 16% decline in India’s ability to produce food by 2030.
The Agriculture sector consumes 78% of India’s Freshwater, and the groundwater contributes to 62% of all the water used for irrigation in India. Water use efficiency for key crops in India is significantly lower than comparable countries.
Keeping this in light, by 2023, India will only have 50% of the water it needs as Water supply would be 800 BCM and demand will be 1400 BCM. IFPRI also estimated that India’s food production could decline by 16% by 2023. Almost 54% of India’s net sown areas depend on rain and 45% of total irrigation in India depends on groundwater. But 42% of the country’s cultivable land lies in drought-prone areas/ districts. As a result, groundwater tables in most of cities are falling at the rate of 2-3 meters a year.
Talking about the water wastage in agriculture, India is one of the lowest water use efficient countries in the world with wastage of upto 60% while world average is 40-50%.