2021 GS3 Answer

Q. How and to what extent would micro-irrigation help in solving India’s water crisis ?

Question from UPSC Mains 2021 GS3 Paper

Model Answer: 

India is facing a severe water crisis due to several factors, including population growth, urbanization, climate change, and unsustainable agricultural practices. Micro-irrigation is a water-efficient agricultural practice that can help to mitigate the water crisis by reducing water consumption in agriculture. In this answer, we will discuss how micro-irrigation can help in solving India’s water crisis.

What is Micro-Irrigation?

Micro-irrigation is a water-efficient irrigation system that delivers water directly to the roots of the plants in small and frequent amounts. This system reduces water consumption and increases crop yield and quality by maintaining optimum soil moisture levels.

How Can Micro-Irrigation Help in Solving India’s Water Crisis?

  • Reduces water consumption: Micro-irrigation systems are highly water-efficient and can reduce water consumption by up to 70% compared to traditional irrigation methods. This can help to conserve water and mitigate the water crisis in India.
  • Increases crop yield: Micro-irrigation systems can help to maintain optimum soil moisture levels, which can increase crop yield and quality, even in water-scarce areas.
  • Suitable for small and marginal farmers: Micro-irrigation systems are suitable for small and marginal farmers who have limited access to water and are dependent on rain-fed agriculture. These farmers can benefit significantly from micro-irrigation systems, as they can grow crops throughout the year, even in the absence of rainfall.
  • Saves energy: Micro-irrigation systems require less energy compared to traditional irrigation methods, as they use low-pressure water delivery systems. This can help to reduce the energy consumption of the agricultural sector and contribute to mitigating climate change.
  • Reduces soil erosion: Micro-irrigation systems deliver water directly to the roots of the plants, reducing soil erosion and conserving soil fertility.

Extent of Micro-Irrigation Implementation in India:

  • Government initiatives: The Government of India has launched several initiatives to promote micro-irrigation in the country, including the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana and the Micro Irrigation Fund.
  • Adoption by farmers: Micro-irrigation systems are gaining popularity among farmers in India, with the area under micro-irrigation increasing from 2.63 million hectares in 2014 to 9.68 million hectares in 2020.

Challenges:

The implementation of micro-irrigation systems faces several challenges, including the high cost of installation, lack of technical expertise among farmers, and inadequate infrastructure for the manufacture and distribution of micro-irrigation equipment.

Conclusion:

Micro-irrigation is a highly water-efficient agricultural practice that can help to mitigate India’s water crisis by reducing water consumption and increasing crop yield. The adoption of micro-irrigation systems by small and marginal farmers can contribute significantly to sustainable agricultural production and improve the livelihoods of farmers. However, the implementation of micro-irrigation systems faces several challenges that need to be addressed by the government and other stakeholders to promote the widespread adoption of micro-irrigation in India.

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