Making Rice–Cultivation Water-Efficient and Sustainable for Haryana

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Growing rice, a crop that demands huge amounts of water, results in significant groundwater depletion across the rice-producing areas of Haryana in India. To reverse this, IRRI is building capacities and encouraging farmers to adopt water use efficiency and crop diversification. Groundwater depletion: the bane of wheat-rice cropping system

Back in the 1960s, the northern states of Punjab and Haryana were the epicenter of the green revolution in India. Today, the states maintain their pivotal role in ensuring food security in the country by continuing to be the highest contributor to India’s agricultural production. Punjab and Haryana produce above the national average volume for food staples, contributing an average of about 4.8 tonnes and 6.5 tonnes of rice and wheat per hectare , respectively. However, this productivity came with a cost as the predominantly used rice-wheat cropping system in producing rice and wheat eventually reduced soil fertility, biodiversity loss, and groundwater depletion below acceptable limits. Between 2000 and 2021, the groundwater level in rice-producing districts of Haryana has reportedly dipped 13 meters .

The way forward

Aimed at helping the communities boost water productivity for various agricultural systems across landscapes, IRRI organized a series of workshops from 7 – 14 June 2024 in Haryana. The sessions, led by experts on water management, focused on interventions by agricultural extension centers, locally known as Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs), and covered four districts: Yamuna Nagar, Karnal, Panipat, and Sonipat. Fifty farmers and 20 KVK scientists participated in these workshops.

The workshops featured case studies on crop diversification based on recorded irrigation practices by farmers during the last Kharif season. During these sessions, three interventions were emphasized to reduce water application in agriculture: adopting short-duration rice varieties, dividing farms…

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