Water Management for Rice Cultivation in Rural India

Madhya Pradesh, India

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AWD or alternate wetting and drying method of rice cultivation is a form of controlled or intermittent irrigation of the rice crops where the farmers switch cultivation practices from continuous flooding of rice paddies to intermittent flooding thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Our AWD programme of activities in rice fields across India is significant as rice is the staple food for over 65% of the population. Rice irrigation consumes an estimated 24-30% of the world’s accessible freshwater resources. India has the world’s largest rice cultivated area and is already in the midst of a water crisis. Added to that, irrigated rice production is a major anthropogenic source of the greenhouse gas methane. The programme seeks to develop a system of improved water management that can always reduce methane emissions during the rice-growing season, by 30% compared to the conventional practice.

Reduced

Water & fuel consumption

1.5 Million tCO2e

Reduction in GHG emissions

Background of Project

With the burgeoning population, the demand for rice is expected to rise, while the area under rice cultivation may reduce drastically in the next decade. To keep up with the demand, practices that increase rice yield and productivity using reduced resources are the need of the hour. The AWD programme is a step in that direction.

The Project

With a pilot of 500 farmers, the scope of the programme will eventually extend to around 34,000 farmers. The farmers will switch the cultivation practices from continuous flooding of rice paddies to intermittent flooding. The technology consists of a simple perforated field water tube made of PVC or bamboo which is inserted into the soil in the paddy areas. The water level is gauged and controlled by monitoring the water levels near the tube.

The Benefits

The benefits from the programme include reduction in methane emissions from traditional rice cultivation, and significant reduction in water consumption. The crop yields are maintained and not affected negatively, and the programme leads to the creation of community organisation through the formation of farmer groups. Typically, farmers use diesel to pump large amounts of water to flood their fields. By applying the AWD technique, fuel Consumption is reduced.