Optimise use of ground water says agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh

NEW DELHI: Increasing water use efficiency was a necessary step to counter the water scarcity issues, which the country could face in the coming years, said Agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh.

Adoption of sprinkler, drip irrigation system and cultivation of coarse cereals particularly millets were some of the measures to conserve water, he said.

Speaking at a session on International Green Week-2017 at Berlin, Singh said that good seeds and fertilizer fail to achieve their full potential if plants are not optimally watered.

"In India, about 86% water is used for agriculture, 6 % for industries and 8 % for domestic uses. The per capita availability of water was 5,177 cubic meter in 1951 and it will reach to 1,341 and 1,140 cubic meter in 2025 and 2050 - which is near to water scarcity line," he said.

Greater efficiency in irrigation should be pursued vigorously, said Singh.

"Adoption of water saving technologies such as sprinkler and drip irrigation system have proven extremely effective. The concept of multiple use of water must be popularized. Emphasis should be given on water resources conservations through watershed development in suitable areas and development of micro-water structures for rainwater harvesting," he said

The minister also added that connecting highly water stressed areas with perennial source of water through linking of rivers or water grids is another solution.

Further cultivation of coarse cereals particularly millets, which require low water and is a climate resilient crops should be promoted to meet the growing demand of safe and nutritious food worldwide, said Singh.

The minister said that due to continuous fall in per capita water availability and increasing population, it becomes necessary to utilize every drop of available water efficiently and to produce more crops from the same available water and land, for providing food security to growing population.

Over exploitation of ground water resources, lack of proper crop alignment, low water use efficiency, lack of awareness among farmers, improper recycling and reuse of water, and problems related to industries were cited as the major reason for the drop in water levels according to Singh.

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