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Groundwater depletion; a threat to agriculture

To tackle such a problem, switching to crops that consume less water can be a solution

Policy Pulse
Publish Date: Oct 17 2016 3:42PM | Updated Date: Oct 17 2016 3:43PM

Groundwater depletion; a threat to agriculture
Owing to rapid ground water depletion in Punjab, the state is seeing massive decline in agricultural output. 
 
Three quarters of Punjab’s total agricultural area is irrigated by groundwater which is unfortunately dropping by 40 to 50 cm annually. 
 
This is totally because of overexploitation of deeper groundwater by farmers using nearly 1.4 million tube wells, which exacerbates the loss of more accessible groundwater. 
 
As per a report by Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), out of 9.1 million of workforce in Punjab, 3.5 million are dependent upon agriculture. 
 
According to some experts, to tackle such a problem, the state needs to shift its focus from crops that require large amounts of water such as wheat, paddy etc to those that require less such as pulses, maize, vegetables, sugarcane etc. 
 
The report also says that, annual demand for irrigation in Punjab is 4.76 million hectare metres against a total annual supply of 3.48 million hectares meters from canal and groundwater resources. 
 
So, amidst this, switching to new crops such as maize, pulses or oilseeds that consume four times less of water than rice, can be a solution.