Looking beyond water-intensive crops to address India’s water crisis – Part 1

India Water Crisis

The clamor for discouraging farmers from growing water-intensive crops like Paddy, Cotton, and Sugarcane in water-starved areas has increased recently. While this is a valid demand considering the alarming water crisis India faces, merely growing less water-intensive crops is not the solution to India’s water woes.

To truly tackle India’s water crisis, we need to look at water usage from a different perspective beyond water-thirsty crops. World Bank data shows that only 37% of India’s agricultural land is irrigated leaving the remaining 63% at the mercy of rains.

With increased population and rapid urbanization, India’s water crisis is slated to intensify in the coming years. Since none of these causes are going to go away anytime soon, the solution to address India’s water crisis will come only by changing the way we find and use water.

To make sure that water supply stays ahead of its ever-increasing demand, we need to cohesively talk about where we get water, how we use it, and what happens to it afterwards. We need methods for procuring usable water, not just from lakes and rivers and rain, but also from other alternative sources. We need to adopt innovative farming methods that consume less water and better ways to prevent leakage and contamination. Most importantly, we need feasible policies that encourage all of these things without hindering India’s economic growth.

The need of the hour is to chalk out a concrete action plan to conserve water for off-season use by arresting the flow of flowing rainwater and rejuvenating India’s water tables.

In the next blog post, we will cover measures that India should adopt to conserve water to tackle the water crisis.

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