DCM Shriram Foundation Water In Agriculture

Water In Agriculture

Conserve water. Sustainable agriculture practices.

Create an enabling environment for water conservation and improve water-use efficiency in agriculture.

Agriculture and Water are inextricably linked. To the extent that civilizations, down the ages, have flourished only along great rivers. The ability to transport water further inland through canals and much later through wells gave humanity the ability to expand their ability to produce more food and hence expand their population. However, the ever increasing demand for water is straining the capacity of rivers / water bodies / groundwater reserves. The fact also remains that we continue to need more food  to feed the increasing human population. This is not taking into account the water requirements of other life forms with whom we share this planet. 

It is an established fact that 70% of fresh water withdrawals in India goes into Agriculture. Around 60% of irrigation in India is done through abstraction of groundwater.  It is also established that India is fast reaching an alarming position as regards ground water availability.

One sixth of blocks in the country are already in the over-exploited category. Add to it the fact that climate change impact is being increasingly felt through reduced rainfall spread. 

Thus any intervention to conserve water at scale will essentially need to work closely with the needs of agriculture. The program will need to negotiate a complex interplay of variables including weather situation, Crop / variety selection, yield potential, water requirement of the crop, irrigation resources, technology to save water, agronomic practices, agri extension services, agri input availability, electricity availability and more. Not to mention policy changes that impact pricing of inputs / produce.

Interventions would also need to keep in mind that 70% of the population in the country depends on agriculture for its livelihood, and agriculture provides 15 - 18% of the nations GDP.

Problem statements identified in the program design:

  • Weak management of water resources is impacting farmers’ ability to conduct agricultural livelihood practices in a sustainable manner
  • Erratic rainfall patterns owing to climate change are causing crop losses among farmers, and are exposing their lack of resilience to such pattern changes
  • Farmer over-exploitation of water for agricultural use is impacting water availability for current and future use, posing significant livelihood risks
  • Weak management and development of water (harvesting) structures are limiting the recharge potential across the country, resulting in deteriorating groundwater levels

Key expected outcomes

  • Increase resilience against erratic rainfall patterns to ensure adequate and timeliness of water availability to meet their agricultural needs
  • Increase farm productivity, output and income, through the use of water-efficient irrigation techniques and alternate cropping solutions
  • Increase surface and groundwater levels for current and future use by farmers

Broad solution areas

  • Create high-level visibility through advocacy, research and Pan India-level water/agri dialogues in order to drive systemic change
  • Engage in partnerships with the government, other corporates, foundations and NGOs in order to drive change at different levels
  • Provide support to start-ups and institutions, and create opportunities for organisations to flourish
  • Customise and replicate initiatives in strategic locations to address key needs in the Water/Agri space
DCM Shriram AgWater Challenge

DCM Shriram AgWater Challenge

Securing water and prosperity for 1 million farmers

in partnership with

Government of India

Prize purse of INR 2.6 Cr

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Water-smart agriculture to transform the lives of India’s small farmers

The DCM Shriram AgWater Challenge by the DCM Shriram Foundation & The/Nudge Prize acts as an innovation catalyst for water-smart agriculture. A 12-month long competition with a Prize purse of INR 2.6 cr, the challenge ensures innovative solutions which are scalable for efficient and sustainable water use in agriculture, thereby creating resilient livelihoods for small and marginal farmers in the face of water stress.