Solutions for Responsible Water Use and Long-Term Viability of Agriculture in Punjab
The 2030 Water Resources Group estimates that if the current pattern of demand for water continues in India, about half of the country’s water needs will be unmet by 2030. As cities, townships and villages struggle with an impending water crisis, there is a growing realization that the issue needs focussed and concerted solutions that involve government, communities, experts, and mission based organizations.
Hindustan Unilever Foundation (HUF)’s mandate is inspired by the belief that “Water as a source of livelihoods and life is under severe threat today. It will take collective and cohesive action by individuals, communities and government to conserve and govern water so it is equitably available to all today and in years to come”.
CIPT in collaboration with HUF is implementing a project titled “Solutions for responsible water use and long-term viability of agriculture in Punjab”. The current project aims to work with Punjab’s robust farmer cooperatives to promote water measurement solutions for efficient paddy-wheat cultivation; financial tools to track input costs with optimum water use and economic tools to trigger large scale adoption of conscious water practices
The project is based in districts dependent on canal and ground water for irrigation. The region has functioning village cooperatives with significant participation of farmers that can be the driving force for catalysing behaviour change on water use and crop choices. The project is based on the three-pronged approach of:
- Building capability of farmer members of select cooperatives to measure water use and savings through affordable technology and tools (lead)
- Developing markets for diversified crops by expanding the role of cooperatives beyond input supplies (support)
- Engaging with Punjab Agricultural University, Directorate of Extension and Education, government departments such as Department of Agriculture, Cooperatives, Extension, Irrigation and Horticulture.
CIPT has been working in Punjab to promote the practices of water savings and judicious use of water through capacity building of farmers, providing sustainable solutions and improve market linkages. The field experiments in 9 districts of Punjab during 2013-18 made farmers realise the benefits of optimum irrigations and lower standing water in the fields
CIPT now proposes to take this forward at scale by promoting the extensive use of a digital soil sensor and targeted outreach of a combination of relevant practices (land preparation, promotion of alternative wet/dry irrigation, seed varieties, DSR, Laser land Levelling etc.) for members of select farmer cooperatives. This can lead to significant water savings in addition to reducing the numbers of irrigations, improve farm production and productivity, promotion of crop diversification and establish market linkages.