Food and Livelihood Security in Punjab through Water, Energy and Agricultural Management
Climate change poses a significant threat to agrarian societies in tropical regions. In Punjab, which produces more than half of India's annual food grain production, there is rising uncertainty in the timing of the rainy season. This - combined with large state subsidies for the use of electricity in irrigation - has prompted farmers to increase their reliance on water drawn from deep aquifers and pay scant attention to irrigation scheduling based on climate and meteorological information. The result is declining groundwater levels and, for low-income farmers without direct access to electricity, increased food insecurity. This project aims to engage farmers, corporations and the state agricultural extension program in making better use of meteorological information to optimize water and energy use, and reduce pressure on overexploited aquifers. While previous work has targeted higher income farmers, this work will focus on lower income groups. Researchers will assess the vulnerability of the food production system to water scarcity; use seasonal climate forecasts to guide irrigation scheduling, fertilizer application and crop choice; optimize the use of agricultural technology to improve water use efficiency; and make use of mobile phone technology to facilitate an exchange of information between farmers and planners. The project is expected to result in policy recommendations aimed at promoting sustainable resource management and facilitating access to resources by low-income farmers.