Columbia Water Center Released New Whitepaper: “Restoring Groundwater in Punjab, India’s Breadbasket”
The Columbia Water Center has released a new whitepaper outlining the groundwater crisis in Punjab, India, as well as potential solutions.
For Indians, the very mention of the word “Punjab” conjures up visions of lush green fields, rich alluvial soils and water aplenty. Punjab has for years been the breadbasket of India, and since the “Green Revolution” of the 1960s, it has taken on an even greater role in feeding the nation. Comprising a mere 1.57 percent of India’s total geographical area, today the state of Punjab produces 12 percent of the India’s 234 million tons of foodgrain, and nearly 40 and 60 percent of the wheat and rice that buffer the nation’s central pool for maintaining food stocks and operating public distribution system for the poor. Today, however, Punjab’s agricultural success is threatened by unsustainable irrigation practices and a rapidly dropping water table.
This white paper outlines the extent and severity of Punjab’s water crisis, and outlines the results of a field study to help farmers irrigate rice more efficiently. The paper then focuses on the application of the tensiometer, a simple device that had the most promising results in helping farmers save water.
The paper concludes that in conjunction with other measures, it is possible to rapidly scale up tensiometer use by rice farmers in Punjab, thus saving millions of liters of water as well as over 80 million kilowatt hours per year of electricity for a very low cost.