How Punjab and Haryana are switching to sustainable cropping techniques to preserve groundwater?

Source: Down to Earth

Syllabus: GS3 – Major Crops – Cropping Patterns in various parts of the country, – Different Types of Irrigation and Irrigation Systems

Relevance: Preservation of groundwater

Synopsis: This Kharif season, in order to reduce groundwater depletion, both Punjab and Haryana are using Direct-Seeded Rice (DSR) method and crop diversification, to sow rice.

Groundwater decline
  • Punjab: According to the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), groundwater levels in Punjab, decreased by about 85% between 1984 and 2016.
  • Haryana: Similarly, Haryana’s groundwater depletion rate is among the highest in the country. Reservoirs in 80 per cent of the 128 blocks are overexploited, critical or semi-critical, according to CGWB.

However, the shift to Direct seeded rice (DSR) technique along with crop diversification is helping the states to reduce groundwater depletion.

Steps taken by the govt
  • Crop diversification: The state governments have made various efforts and run campaigns to encourage farmers to shift from paddy and diversify into crops like cotton, maize, pulses, among others. Paddy, the main Kharif crop in two states, is a water intensive crop.
    • Last year, Haryana launched  ‘Mera Pani Meri Virasat’ scheme, under which an incentive of Rs 7,000 is being given to farmers to switch from paddy.
  • Promotion of DSR: Punjab brought 600,000 hectares under direct-seeded rice (DSR), an alternative to the traditional, water-intensive method of sowing rice. State of Haryana is also promoting DSR and the state government announced to give Rs 5,000 per acre to farmers opting for this technology
Why use DSR?
  • DSR method can help reduce water consumption by as much as 35% over the traditional process of transplanting rice seedlings from a nursery to waterlogged fields. The method, however, does not work well in areas with sandy loam soil.

Terms to know:

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