Expressing concern over the depleting ground water resources in states like Punjab,Ashok Gulati,the chairman of Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP),said the paucity of water for irrigation is emerging as the biggest challenge for the Indian agriculture sector. The time has come when production needs to be measured by per thousand litres of water used for irrigation,instead of yield per hectare, he said while addressing the Vibrant Gujarat Global Agriculture Summit here Monday.
Comparing water usage by Punjab and West Bengal in cultivating paddy,Gulati said,For producing one kilogram of rice,Punjab consumes 5,400 litres of water,whereas West Bengal consumes only 2,400 litres. This water-intensive cultivation process is causing ground water levels in Punjab to recede by 33 centimetres every day.
The road ahead is diversification, Gulati told the gathering of about 4,000 farmers,which also included a strong contingent from Punjab,a state where 70% of the cultivable land is irrigated through tubewells. Punjab CM Prakash Singh Badal hit back at Gulati and the Centre saying,We are being shown the stick like an animal in a zoo. They ask us to diversify,but are silent on how to go about it.
Acknowledging the importance of water in the future,CM Narendra Modi said the aim of the farmers should be to achieve more crop,per drop. In the last decade,over 9 lakh hectares of land in Gujarat has been brought under micro-irrigation, Modi said.
The CACP chairman went on to laud states like Gujarat,Madhya Pradesh,Chhattisgarh and Bihar for advancements in the agriculture sector. What is happening in Gujarat is a miracle, Gulati said while applauding the 10% year-on-year growth clocked by the state. In 2006,we had to import six metric tonne of wheat. However,we are in a position of surplus now. During the year 2012-13,we exported 22 metric tonne of food grains and today,even after the requirements of the food security bill,we will be left with 25 metric tonne of additional food grains, Gulati added.