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Report by FICCI & PwC calls for national integrated agri water policy
Thursday, 27 February, 2020, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Ashwani Maindola, New Delhi
An integrated approach is the need of the hour towards depleting water resource in the country to ensure water productivity and water security in the country. This was stated in a recent report titled Plugging India’s agri-water gap: Sustainable and innovative approaches, which was published by FICCI and PwC.

“Agriculture being the largest user of fresh water in country needed a renewed policy framework with an institutional structure,” it added.

“In India, 90 per cent of all freshwater withdrawal is used by the agriculture sector alone, followed by consumption for municipal (7.4 per cent) and industrial (2.2 per cent) purposes,” the report stated.

“Accelerating innovation in water conservation to sustain current and future water demand, the Government needs to consider promoting the irrigation industry to capitalise on water use efficiency by bringing it under the infrastructure category,” it added.

The report stressed on the need to have a long-term and futuristic approach, adapting smart and climate-resilient agricultural practices for water-deficient and water-abundant regions, besides managing water as an economic good to ensure water efficiency and sustainability.

“There is also a need for creating a sustainable ecosystem for hydro-economic models, as the current situation demands innovation in financing irrigation infrastructure for prudent economics and judicious water usage. And therefore, water, which is a scarce resource, needs a National Integrated Agriculture Water Policy,” the report said.

Meanwhile, U P Singh, secretary, Department of Water Resources, RD and GR, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India, while releasing the report here, stated that emphasis should be on water productivity rather than just land productivity focussing on identifying the water footprint, like carbon footprint.

Emphasising on the need of water conservation in agriculture, he added that there is a dire need to adopt water recycle, and reuse policy in agriculture sector, which has provisions for mandates and incentivisation.

Singh further said that the current government procurement policy which mainly focuses on wheat and rice, should be reviewed. It is important that states and farmers must be incentivized for other crops as well.

“Today, we don't grow crops based on water endowment and topography of that particular area,” he said.

Alka Bhargava, additional secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India, said that improved productivity is key to sustainability.

“We have started adopting AI (artificial intelligence) and other technologies to check soil moisture and cropping patterns. We are also looking at the use of grey water in agriculture to reduce dependence on ground water,” she added.

Present on the occasion was T R Kesavan, chairman, FICCI National Agriculture Committee and Group President, TAFE Ltd amongst others.
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