For water resources sector, the country should adopt
the theme crop per drop. All of our policies, projects, development and
thought should be addressed toward this theme. The water resources
development agenda may be that one-half of the increase in the demand
for water by 2025 should be met by increasing the effectiveness of
irrigation. While the remaining water needs should be met by dams and
the conjunctive use of aquifers. For effectiveness of irrigation, lining
of canals, watercourses, construction of water storage at farm level and
research, development, and joint venture in sprinkler, drip, trickle,
micro-spray, center pivot irrigation and hydroponics green house
production is necessary. This strategy will result in creating
employment opportunities and for reduction of poverty in the country.
Future water scarcity presents the single biggest
threat to food production. As the world population has increased since
the 1960s, irrigated land has remained relatively stable at about 0.045
hectare per person. In contrast, arable land area per capita decreased
from 0.38 hectare to 0.28 hectare per person in 1990. Irrigated land
comprises 15 percent of the arable land in the world and produces 36
percent of the food. Two-thirds of the world's irrigated area is in
Asia. Nearly 70 percent of the grain in China and almost 50 percent of
the grain in India is harvested from irrigated lands. The FAO estimated
that almost two-thirds of the increase in crop production that is needed
in developing countries in the upcoming decades must come from an
increased yield per unit of land area; one-fifth must come from
increased arable land area and one-eight from increasing cropping
Water being lifeblood for agriculture, industry and
domestic activities has become a dwindling natural resource on this
contemporary globe. Developed and developing countries are striving hard
to harvest and develop new water resources for future needs. It is
anticipated as a major reason for future wars among nations. Per capita
availability of surface has been gradually dwindling in Pakistan from
5400 cubic meters in 1951 to 1300 cubic meters in 2002. It has been
projected that by 2005 per capita availability of surface water may hit
1000 cubic meters, which is a threshold for defining a water short
The Indus river basin system has multipurpose dams
and reservoirs, nineteen barrages and headwork's, forty five independent
main canals and twelve link canals covering about 90,000 villages and
stretching over 40,000 miles in the country. The water entering the
rivers aggregates to about 145 million acre feet per annum. Of this,
about 109 million acre is transferred to canals annually and remaining
40 million acre feet flows down into sea, because of lack of storage
capacities. The volume of water entering irrigation watercourses from
canal amounts to 78 million acre feet per annum. Water obtained from
70,000 public and private tube wells for irrigation purposes has been
estimated at 44 millions acre-feet annually. Thus the total water from
both canals and tube-wells is about 122 million-acre feet. The
agriculture sector was never able to make optimum advantage of the
available water resources mainly due to the inefficient water
management. Of the 109 million acre feet water entering the canals each
year, about 28 million acre feet is lost in transit due to a number of
factors. Besides about 45 million acre is lost within the watercourses.
The three rivers now with Pakistan Jehlum, Chenab and
Indus water only flows from 70 to 100 days. If we don't store this
water, it will flow to the sea. If this water is stored in dams it may
be used throughout the year. For storage purpose we have three main dams
namely, Terbela, Chashma and Mangla. Sedimentation is reducing their
storage capacity day by day. Our neighboring countries like India and
China have built 4200 and 22,000 large dams since 1948 respectively. So
there is need of immediate construction of new dams.
As a result of global warming, intensity of
precipitation is decreasing every year. More than 80 per cent area of
Pakistan receives on average annual rainfall of less than 15 inches,
which is insufficient for sustainable agriculture.
Domestic waste should be used in the country for
irrigation only after treatments. At present the use of this water as
such for producing vegetables around cities is causing problem to human
There is substantial loss of water from irrigation
system. We need improvement of a farm water management system,
improvement of water supply from surface and ground water, operation,
maintenance, management and rehabilitation of canals and watercourses.
In projecting global water demands one international
study concluded that one-half of the increase in the demand for water by
2025 could be met by increasing the effectiveness of irrigation. While
small dams and the conjunctive use of aquifers could meet the remaining
water needs, medium dams will certainly be needed.
PROMOTING IRRIGATION EFFICIENCY
One study offered four options for enhancing water
use efficiency in irrigated agriculture. This study pointed out that
focusing on only one category will likely to be unsuccessful. The four
Crop management to enhance precipitation captures or
reduces water evaporation (e.g. crop residues, conservation till, and
plant spacing): improved varieties; advanced cropping strategies that
maximize cropped area during periods of lower water demands and/or
periods when rainfall may have greater likelihood of occurrence.
Irrigation systems that reduce application losses,
improve distribution uniformly or both; cropping systems that can
enhance rainfall capture (e.g., crop residues, deep chiseling or Para
tilling, furrow diking, and dummer-diker pitting).
Demand-based irrigation scheduling; slight to
moderate deficit irrigation to promote deeper soil water extraction;
avoiding root zone salinity yield thresholds; preventive equipment
maintenance to reduce unexpected equipment failures.
User participation in an irrigation operation and
maintenance; water pricing and legal incentives to reduce water use and
penalties for inefficient use; training and educational opportunities
for learning newer, advanced techniques.
Different countries are carrying out a range of
programs to improve their use of irrigation water. Below is a selection
of successful projects now in operation.
In Korea fertigation is practiced as a method of
enhancing the efficiency of water use and fertilizer application.
Irrigation efficiency through fertigation is measured using hardware and
software management tools. The recently developed Korean auto-irrigation
system covers a number of plots, and can irrigate several plots at the
same time. It uses an electronic tensiometer to measure the level of
soil moisture, and an electric flow meter as a watering gauge. This
system provides accurate and uniform application of water and fertilizer
at a lower labor cost.
Japan taps its biggest river in Kyushu Island, the
Chikugo River, for irrigating diversified cropping system through water
re-use and recycling. This is made possible through the canal-reservoir
network systems that can be found in the river's downstream portion. In
these lowland areas, water demand for irrigation is higher than
potential water supply because of the river's relatively small basin.
Farmers practice the Ao-intake method as a means of
maximizing the amount of stored water. During high tide, water pours in
through the intake gate. Use of available water is maximized by a
massive system of pipelines and pumps, as well as open canals. The main
pipeline and pump systems are managed by Water Agency. Newly organizes
Land Improvement Districts and the Local Government Units manage the
operation of creeks, lateral canals and drainage systems. Coupled with
these developments is the transformation from rice-based farming to
multiple cropping. The area planted in soybean and wheat is expanding,
in contrast with the area planted in rice.
The National Irrigation Administration in the
Philippines has implemented a number of projects to enhance irrigation
efficiency. The focus is on the establishment and capability development
of Irrigators Associations Improvements in the performance of irrigation
systems can be attributed, not only to improved infrastructure and
facilities, but also to the involvement of farmer-beneficiaries, from
project planning to operation and maintenance of irrigation facilities.
To effectively tap farmers' participation, pilot learning laboratories
have been established. It has been policy to help farmers organize into
Irrigation Associations. A common practice now in the Philippines is the
pressurized irrigation system, which uses drip and sprinkler systems.
More than 21, 600 hectares are now irrigated in this way, mainly in
Mindanao, much of which is planted in high-value crops such as banana
and mango. Pressurized irrigation system reduces non-beneficial
evaporation, applies water uniformly to crops, reduce stress in plants,
and helps increase the economic productivity of water. Pressurized
irrigation system is appropriate in high-value production and other
intensive cultivation. Irrigation systems for rice paddies depend partly
on the scale of production. Paddy farms in Taiwan, Korea, and Japan are
fairly small. However, irrigation and drainage practices are
sophisticated, and considerable labor is needed to control gate
operations. This become economically inefficient when labor coats are
high. Rather independent management of irrigation water by farmers, the
focus now is on rotational block irrigation. With ditches to recycle the
overflow. This system helps reduce labor costs, and promote the use of
In USA the types of irrigation systems used have
changed dramatically through the years. Surface irrigation (various
gravity methods) decreased from 63 percent of the total in 1979 to 50
percent in 1994, while low-pressure systems (e.g., drip, trickle and
micro sprays) increased from 0.6 percent of the total in 1979 to almost
4 percent in 1994. One of the larger and more obvious changes was to
center pivot sprinklers, which increased from 16.83 percent in 1979 to
30.27 percent in 1994.
Middle eastern countries and China have adopted high
efficiency system. In Turkey sprinkler irrigation is used instead of
TRANSFER OF WATER-SAVING TECHNOLOGIES
The international Rice Research Institute is
conducting project on "Technology Transfer for Water Savings".
The project aimed at developing a mechanism to bring water-saving
technology to farmers. This involved selecting a pilot site, and
assessing the needs and opportunities. A public seminar is then held to
discuss water-saving technologies, and appropriate technology was
selected. Demonstration on farms were set up, where two years of
validation was carried out. This included regular collection and
analysis of data, not only about the soils and crops, but also the
economic returns and other socio-economic aspects. Regular discussion
took place with farmers, and the technology was adopted according to
feed back from farmers. Regular field days were held for farmers, to
teach them about the technology. Finally, the technology was applied on
a large scale, and extension materials were developed.
Some of the promising techniques to be tested at a
pilot scale are as follows:
important concept in deep-water irrigation cultivation technique.
This means providing the rice crop with surface
irrigation when precipitation is plentiful. With this practice, less
irrigation is needed and irrigation efficiency is improved. The water
depth is increased gradually to 25 cm in keeping with the growth of the
crop. The paddy field becomes a natural reservoir, which keeps
recharging groundwater and continuously returning water to the system.
In Pakistan irrigation efficiency is low, as in
Pakistan one kg of rice is produced with 3750 liter of water, while in
China the same quantity of rice is produced with 1000 liter of water.
Egypt, Pakistan is the second country, which has largest irrigated area.
In Egypt and Pakistan 100 and 76 percent of the cultivated area is under
irrigation. Experiments in Egypt have successfully reduced water budget
for wheat by 70 percent.
C. The rain
gun is pressure driven portable device that helps irrigate large tracts
of cultivable land. The rain gun when compared to flood irrigation saves
water by 50 percent. It also makes available the land use as water
channels for cultivation. When compared to a sprinkler the throw and
discharge of water is higher, thereby reducing the time consumed in
irrigation. This saving in time translated into reduction in cost of
irrigation when electricity is charged. Rain guns can be effectively
used in irrigating crops such as sugarcane, tea, coffee, banana,
turmeric, and ginger etc. The rain gun comes with a three different
types of nozzles, 12mm, 16mm and 20mm. Nozzles can be fit as per the
water requirements for the crop concerned. Te minimum pressure required
is 2Kg/sq. cm.
The cost of production of sugar in Pakistan is very
high as compared to other sugar producing countries. That is why sugar
is not exported from Pakistan. The cost of production is largely
determined by sugarcane yield, the sucrose content and sugar processing
costs. Sugarcane yield in Pakistan are among the lowest in the world. In
Pakistan climatic is not idle, since this is tropical plant. The rain
gun method of irrigation may be tried on this crop to simulate tropical
— growing plants in sand, gravel or liquid without adding soil with
nutrients, would help reduce freshwater consumption by using roughly
one-hundredth the fresh water customarily needed for plants. This would
leave the rest for human consumption, as well as for residential and
Water saving is of particular interest in New Mexico,
Southeast America, Mexico and other water parched regions, including the
Middle East and certain lands between India and Pakistan and northern
China where the underground water supply is fast dipping. In all these
places, the majority of water use is for irrigated agriculture rather
than direct human consumption and other productive uses.
The US government is working with Mexico to develop
on hydroponics and its uses. Survey have shown that 80 percent of New
Mexico water use is agricultural, more than half of which goes into
growing forage, mostly alfalfa. Preliminary indications are that
hydroponics greenhouses in New Mexico could reduce the current 800,000
acre-feet of water used for agriculture to 11,000 acre-feet. In addition
they can reduce the land used from 280, 000 acres of alfalfa to less
than 1,000 acre.
ROLE OF FARMERS AT THE COMMUNITY LEVEL
The farmers' role development is crucial in enhancing
water use efficiency. One example that exemplifies this is the San
Benito Irrigators' Association in Victoria, Laguna, Philippines. Farmers
in this area organized themselves through the assistance of the local
office of the National Irrigation Administration. A continuous education
program made members conversant with the operations and management of
irrigation service. Farmers were able to adopt new technologies and
increase their productivity. All members were given access to post
A core project was the rehabilitation of old
irrigation facilities. A participatory approach was followed. Farmers
were given training and were involved in the project from planning and
conceptualizing program and projects, up to implementation. To increase
production income and maximize land use, farmers are practicing crop
diversification (rice-watermelon). One policy of the irrigation
association was that no water was supplied to farmers who did not have
an official irrigation service fee receipt.
The problem can be categorized into technical,
economic, institutional, social and political, and environmental. Some
technologies that have been developed are not acceptable under local
conditions. This is because of several factors, including lack of funds
for large infrastructure projects, a lack of technical skills to
automate irrigation system, and lack of adequate rainfall as one source
of irrigation water. In developed countries, where funding is less of
problem, the issues related to costs and benefits of large
infrastructure projects are still under discussion. When governments
make a large capital investment, there may be less concern to assess its
cost effectiveness. Common among developing countries with small farms
is the problem of collecting irrigation service fees. Most, if not all,
experience a low rate of payment of fees. This low rate of collection
leads to another problem, of poor infrastructure and irrigation
facilities due to lack of funds. This in turn reduces the productivity
of farms. The impact of intensive agriculture on the environment is
another concern for almost all countries. The growing public awareness
of the deteriorating water quality and widespread water pollution makes
it imperative to develop a more holistic approach to water resources
There should be an integrated, holistic approach to
irrigation management for positive impacts. Water use efficiency
involves a wide range of factors such as farm size, soil condition,
cropping patterns, agronomic crops, as well as the interplay of
socio-political and economic aspects of allocation, management, and
utilization of water.
Farmer's participation in the planning,
implementation, monitoring and evaluation of irrigation projects is
important. Also, a well-organized water users group or irrigation
association must be in place to enable members to undertake operations
Pakistan should harvest ad develop new water
resources for present and future needs. Pakistan should develop storage
facilities at rivers, streams in form of large, medium and small dams.
There is also a need for building water storage facilities at the farm
level, so that water can be used by high technology irrigation system
throughout the year. This will result in increasing the intensity and
productivity of crops.
The agricultural and industrial sector should be able
to make the optimum advantage of the available water resources by
efficient water management i.e., by reducing water losses in canals,
watercourses and at field level.
There should be project for rain harvesting and use
of domestic wastewater.
Pakistan can learn from the successful high
technology projects in operation in other countries. Our private sector
should come forward and have joint venture with other countries for
development of drip, trickle, micro spray, and center pivot sprinkler
and rain gun irrigation. In Pakistan, farmers to meet the increasing
water demand of crops are using brackish water, which is resulting in
the destruction of national soils. Pakistan should encourage the farmers
by giving incentives to adopt efficient advanced irrigation technology,
which will result increase in crop productivity and intensity. These
Technologies can be immediately used for high value crops such as fruit
crops and intensive agriculture.
For enhancing water use efficiency there should be
equal focus on options such as agronomic, engineering, management and
Pakistan should invest in research and development
and joint ventures in drip, sprinkler and hydroponics greenhouse
production, particularly in parts of country with severe water shortage.
The development and use of these technologies will be important for
creating employment and reduction in poverty.