A Groundwater Depletion Awareness Index developed by the researchers showed multidimensional cognitive barriers to increase uptake of water-efficient farming due to profound disconnect between policy-making and awareness generation at grassroots.
Vivek U. Padvetnaya, Associate Professor, Jindal School of Government & Public Policy, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
Sriroop Chaudhuri, Co-Director, Center for Environment, Sustainability and Human Development (CESH), Jindal School of Liberal Arts and Humanities, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
Ankita, Research Analyst, The Economist Intelligence Unit, Gurgaon, Haryana, India.
Rise of groundwater-sourced irrigation in India towed along grave concerns over water resources conservation. In this narrative, we offer the authorities (groundwater and irrigation systems’ managers) a Groundwater Depletion Awareness Index (GDAI) – a collective expression of farmers’ cognitive awareness, integrating four key aspects of irrigated agriculture: (i) groundwater depletion; (ii) water-efficient crops; (iii) irrigation innovations for water conservation; and (iv) uptake of recent irrigation policies at grassroots.
We employed a mixed method approach, a cross-sectional survey (10 villages, 100 farmers in Sonepat, Haryana) combined with multivariate statistics (principal component analysis and multivariate regression).
Results indicated that although there is certain level of awareness about groundwater depletion, only about 8% of the interviewees adopted water-efficient practices, such as micro-irrigation (MI) and poly house farming (PH).
About 42% of interviewees heard of government’s MI policy (Per Drop More Crop; launched in 2015), while only 7% were aware of its benefits. None was aware of the advantages of PH.
At the grassroots, farmers appeared more aware of potential challenges of MI and PH than their opportunities. None was aware of the Haryana state government’s recent Jal Hi Jeevan Hai policy (Water is Life; 2019) that urges farmers to diversify and switch to water-efficient crops.
Overall, the GDAI revealed multidimensional cognitive barriers to increase uptake of water-efficient farming. It owes to profound disconnect between policy-making and awareness generation at grassroots.
We outline means to bridge the gap about how to (i) promote PH-based farming; (ii) restructure financial packages for MI; and (iii) motivate farmers by hands-on demonstration of economic returns of PH and MI.
Published in: Ecology, Environment and Conservation
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