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Importance of Increasing Area Under Irrigation in India

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  • Last Updated : 29 Sep, 2021
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Agriculture is the major source of income, for roughly 58 percent of India’s population. India is the world’s second-largest producer of agricultural products. Agriculture employed more than half of the Indian workforce in 2018 and generated 17–18% of the country’s GDP. 

Generally, in the maximum part of India, rainfall is limited to only four months every year, from June to September, when the monsoon arrives. In certain regions of the nation, rainfall occurs throughout the months of December and January. Rainfall is scarce and unreliable in many regions of the nation, even during the monsoon and in agriculture, insufficient, unpredictable, and irregular rain creates uncertainty which is the main cause for the low production. That’s why Water is a critical input for agricultural production and plays an important role in a good output from agriculture. 

Irrigation is the science of applying water to land artificially in order to meet the water needs of crops throughout their life cycle in order to provide adequate nutrition. India’s irrigation system consists of a network of big and small canals branching from Indian rivers, as well as groundwater well-based systems, tanks, and other rain-gathering facilities. The largest of these is the groundwater system. 

Groundwater is used for 65 percent of irrigation in India. Irrigation now covers roughly 51% of the agricultural land used to grow food grains. The rest of the region relies on rain, which is frequently inconsistent and unexpected. Mineral nutrients can be absorbed by plants from watered soil. As a result, irrigation is necessary for the plant’s overall development. Irrigation also plays a crucial role to bring additional land under agriculture.

The impact of Irrigation on agricultural production:

1. Irrigated land has higher productivity: Irrigated land productivity is significantly higher than unirrigated land productivity. Irrigation ensures a more steady food supply as well as increased output. In recent research, it was proved Irrigation has been linked to enhanced CO2 sequestration, lower N₂O emissions, which help to produce more crops.

2. Drought and famine control: The monsoons might be a long time coming, or they can come and go quickly. As a result, huge swaths of the country are experiencing drought. Droughts and famines both can be efficiently managed with irrigation. Drought susceptibility is reduced in many regions because of irrigation, which allows farmers to apply water to their crops in addition to rainfall. Long-term drought reduces the amount of surface water, which has an impact on farm production systems that rely largely on surface water for irrigation.

3. Multiple cropping options are available:  However, there is a need to maintain an appropriate supply of irrigation water in order to produce more crops at the same time. If appropriate crops such as legumes are included in the cropping system, multiple cropping might also help to maintain soil fertility.

Because India’s climate is tropical and subtropical, it has the ability to grow crops all year. Multiple cropping is typically not practicable since 80 percent of the yearly rainfall falls in less than four months. In most parts of the nation, irrigation systems can allow for the production of two or three crops every year. This will have a significant impact on agricultural production and productivity.

4. Contribution to the new agriculture strategy: Irrigation alone accounted for about 50% of the variance in agricultural output during 1980-83 and 1990-93, but this dropped to roughly 24% in 2003-05 and 2005-08. Although irrigation continues to play a dominating role in boosting the value of output, the value of its coefficients has been dropping over time, according to multivariate regression analysis utilizing various yield-enhancing and infrastructure factors. The successful execution of the High Yielding Program has a significant impact on agricultural productivity.

5. Increasing the amount of land under cultivation: In 1999-2000, the total reporting area for land usage data was 306.05 million hectares. There were now 19.44 million hectares of fallow land out of this total of 19.44 million hectares. Other than present fallows, which comprise land that has been un-ploughed for one to five years, current fallows include areas that have been fallow for less than one year.

Another 13.83 million hectares of cultivable wasteland exist. Cultivation in all such areas is difficult in certain situations, while in others, soil preparation needs significant financial expenditure. Irrigation facilities might allow some of this area to be cultivated.

6. Reduces output level inconsistency: Fertilizer use, irrigation, greater soil tillage, and improved agricultural methods are all likely to have had a role in the continuous output improvements.

Irrigation aids in the maintenance of output and yield levels. During drought years, it also serves as a buffer. Because income and employment are both positively and intimately connected to the production, preventing a drop in output during a drought is a key tool for attaining income and employment stability in rural areas. Many states have gained ‘partial drought immunity’ because of irrigation.

7. Irrigation’s indirect advantages include: Increased agricultural productivity is an indirect effect of irrigation. Irrigated lands have the ability to provide jobs, enhance output, and aid in the development of associated businesses such as water transportation, all of which assist the government to earn more money from agriculture. Farmers’ income will rise as a result of consistent water supply, giving the industry a sense of security and stability.

8. Rain-fed farming: The natural application of water to the soil by direct rainfall is known as rain-fed farming. While relying on rainwater reduces the risk of food contamination, it can expose you to water shortages when rainfall is low. Artificial water applications(irrigation) are important for these types of farming in India.

9. high-yielding seeds require more water: In India, the Green Revolution began in the late 1960s with the introduction of high-yielding rice and wheat cultivars to boost food production and alleviate hunger and poverty. The Green Revolution was as much about improving irrigation as it was about developing new hybrids, fertilizers, and pesticides. Irrigation is an essential component of the Green Revolution package.

India is heavily dependent on agriculture, so it is cultivated in more areas and due to more area, we have different types of soil in different places that require a different amount of water to grow the crops. Irrigation also depends upon different soil-to-soil because clay soil has tiny, fine particles, it holds the most water. Sand holds the least quantity of water due to its bigger particles and low nutritious value while being easily replaced with water.  As a result, in particular soil more irrigation is required. There are also some valuable crops in India like maize, wheat, sugarcane. For which we need sufficient irrigation as farmers get more profit from these crops.


India is recognized for its world-class agricultural operations, but as the world moves toward technology, we must first develop our agricultural technology, which will serve as a foundation for other sectors. Agriculture in India, like that of many other developing nations, has grown dramatically in the last four decades as a result of the widespread adoption of high-yielding variety seeds, by the development of irrigation systems.

In recent data, shows that India will have 1.7 billion people by 2050, and to keep pace with the population, food production must grow by at least 4.2% a year, which is more than twice the current rate, for that reason more agricultural land is needed with the proper Irrigation management system.

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