• Article By: Jim Erickson with contribution from Adam Thomas Photo courtesy of Pinki Mondal February 25, 2021

Indian agriculture

UD professor says groundwater depletion could reduce winter cropped acreage significantly in years ahead

India is the world’s second-largest producer of wheat and rice and is home to more than 600 million farmers. The country has achieved impressive food-production gains since the 1960s, due in part to an increased reliance on irrigation wells, which allowed Indian farmers to expand production into the mostly dry winter and summer seasons.

Those gains, however, have come at a cost: The country that produces 10 percent of the world’s crops is now the world’s largest consumer of groundwater, and aquifers are rapidly becoming depleted across much of India.

Indian government officials have suggested that switching from groundwater-depleting wells to irrigation canals, which divert surface water from lakes and rivers, is one way to overcome projected shortfalls.