ICAR recently organized a press conference on “Scientific Agricultural Water Management: A pressing need for food safety” at the National Agricultural Science Centre Complex, New Delhi addressed by Dr. Trilochan Mohapatra, Secretary (DARE) & DG (ICAR).
The Director General stated that this initiative will provide us a platform to disseminate the important policies, schemes and the latest technological advancements in agricultural arena to a large number of farmers at a time. Providing the data of continuous decrease in the water level since the Year - 1951 to 2014, he expressed his concerns about the major water related problems that we are on the verge to face in the near future.
Dr. Mohapatra stated about the utilization of approximately 85% of the current water use by the agriculture sector. He expressed his concerns about the exploitation of 70% of underground water for the fresh irrigation practices. This, in turn, has led the water level to decrease considerably. The growing gap between the Irrigation Potential Created (IPC) and Irrigation Potential Utilized (IPU) along with the uneven distribution of water over the canal system’s length has been one of the major challenges among the irrigation sector in the country. The low irrigation efficiency (35-40%), inequity in water distribution, mismatch between the irrigation water supply and crop water demand, tail enders deprivation, irrigation induced salinity and water-logging are some of the major challenges that are being faced in the canal commands.
The Director General emphasized on adopting the water storage and conservation practices by the farming sector in order to deal promptly with the situations of various challenges being posed to the ecosystem in the wake of climate change, drought and floods, etc. He stressed on the several approaches for improving the water-use efficiency or enhancing the agricultural water productivity like replacing the high water consuming crops with low water consuming ones, breeding water-use efficient crop varieties and adopting sustainable irrigation management encompassing the smart, precision technologies for irrigation and farming practices.
Dr. Mohapatra stated that the water conservation & “More Crop Per Drop” is possible through Micro Irrigation. He also urged to be less dependent on underground water and stressed on the importance of the storage and conservation of waste water.
Citing about the inception of the Government of India’s “Jal Shakti Abhiyan” from 1st July, 2019, Dr. Mohapatra stated about the Council’s initiatives to organize various training sessions, Melas and workshops under the aegis of Krishi Vigyan Kendras for making the farmers aware about the importance of selecting the proper irrigation and varieties of crops. He also highlighted about organizing a total of 500 Kisan Melas for the purpose.
He emphasized on the ICAR’s contribution in the preparation of the State Specific Action Plan (SSAP) in the water sector for the scientific assessment of the supply and demand side of water resources and vulnerability to the climate change under the National Water Mission. He emphasized that this will help in formulating the Annual State/UT Water Budgets and hence, in allocation and efficient utilization of available water resources.
Dr. Mohapatra also highlighted the various technologies developed by the ICAR for water storage and conservation.