India’s Food Security Threatened by Groundwater Depletion

A farmer in her rice field in southern India. Photo: Meena Kadri/Wikimedia Commons
A farmer in her rice field in southern India. Photo: Meena Kadri/Wikimedia Commons

The severe and ongoing depletion of underground water supplies in India poses a growing threat to the nation’s food security. Without serious efforts to stem the mining of groundwater, food production will decline, unleashing painful social and economic consequences for this nation of 1.25 billion people.

All four of the world’s top irrigators – China, India, Pakistan and the United States – are pumping groundwater faster than it is being replenished in crucial crop-producing areas. But the problem is most serious in India, where 60 percent of irrigated farming depends on groundwater.

Scientists have estimated that northern India, which includes the nation’s breadbasket of wheat and rice production, is depleting groundwater at a rate of 54 billion cubic meters per year, a volume that could support a subsistence-level diet for some 180 million people.

In addition to the breadbasket states of Punjab and Haryana in the northwest, groundwater levels are falling extensively in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu.

More than 15 percent of India’s food is being produced by mining groundwater.

In the southern state of Tamil Nadu, irrigated land has dropped by half over the last decade due —> Read More Here

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