A large population, needs of agricultural economy and urbanization have created situation of water stress in India. The irrigation needs of agriculture are at the heart of the problem of water stress. In this perspective, micro-irrigation is seen as a solution.
Micro-irrigation can help in solving India’s water crisis in following ways:
- It can address needs of dryland farming in regions with depleting groundwater aquifers. For example, in Punjab.
- It can help reduce over-dependence on monsoon and vulnerability to drought. For example, less than 50% agriculture is irrigated at present.
- Efficient use of water through micro-irrigation can help reduce the agricultural demand of water. This will help reduce inter-state river water disputes.
- It will help move away from unsustainable irrigation practices like flood irrigation which also lead to ecological issues like ground water pollution, salinity, eutrophication etc.
However, micro-irrigation’ impact in solving India’s water crisis will be limited due to following reasons:
- Affordability of micro-irrigation systems would be a challenge for small and marginal farmers.
- Micro-irrigation cannot ameliorate water-stress due to poor ago-climatic choices in crops. Such as sugarcane and paddy cultivation in Rajasthan.
Micro-irrigation is a progressive solution to improve water-use efficiency and agricultural yield. But solution to problem of water-stress in India require across-the-board interventions.