NEW DELHI: With water stress increasing in many parts of the country, the agriculture ministry and NITI Aayog are planning to carry out an extensive study on agricultural use of water which, in future, will help farmers opt for cultivation based on water consumption levels.
“Agriculture is a major consumer of groundwater. The growing groundwater dependency may seriously impact agriculture production in future. NITI Aayog is going to study the farming pattern and water consumption levels,” a senior official from the Ministry of Agriculture said.
The Marathwada region in Maharashtra, some parts of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and parts of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Telangana have already been declared water-stressed areas. Water scarcity is already threatening agricultural production in these regions. In 2017, NITI Aayog came up with a report on the condition of water which had highlighted the seriousness of the water crisis and the falling groundwater level in the country.
While the NITI Aayog report mentioned water stress in the agricultural sector, officials added that the new study would be more sector-specific, focusing on crop patterns and irrigation methods, with more recent data. The NITI Aayog is expected to submit the study report by the end of October. Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, had said agriculture accounts for two-thirds of water usage, mainly for irrigation, and groundwater meets 63 per cent of the irrigation needs.
“If 10 per cent of the water used for agriculture could be saved, India’s water problems would be solved. The Jal Shakti Ministry has already initiated many steps to save the general consumption of water, but agriculture needs a more focused approach,” another official from the Jal Shakti Ministry said.