Water Consumption in Indian Agriculture

  • The volume of water used for irrigation in India is expected to increase by 68.5 Tr liters between 2000 and 2025.
  • Another approach to assessing water consumption in agriculture is through the concept of virtual water.
  • Direct (irrigation) and indirect (for production of fertilizers, machinery, consumed by farmers, etc.) use of water in agriculture constitute virtual water usage.
  • Rise in water consumption: Rice, wheat and sugarcane together constitute ~90% of India’s crop3production and are the most water-consuming crops. India has the highest water footprints among the top rice and wheat producing countries (China, US, Indonesia, etc.)
  • Over-exploitation of groundwater: States with the highest production of rice/wheat are expected to face groundwater depletion of up to 75%, by 2050
  • Increase in wastewater discharge: Agriculturally based industries such as textiles, sugar and fertilizer are among the top producers of wastewater.
  • Rise in domestic demand for food grains: India’s demand for food grain will grow from 178 MM mt in 2000 to 241 MM mt in 2050
  • Increase in exports: Value of agricultural exports of India have tripled from $5.6 Bn in 2000 to $18.1 Bn in 2008
  • Change in consumption pattern of agricultural products: Demand for agricultural products with high water footprint is projected to rise with increased disposable income and urbanization. Contribution of non-food grain (sugarcane, fruits and vegetables, etc.) and animal products1in daily food intake for an individual is expected to grow from 35%2in 2000 to ~50% 2050