Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Rice , Millets and Water Scarcity

Today participated in World water day celebrations along with college students from JNTU and officials of the A P pollution control Board. The March 22nd is being celebrated as World Water Day ( started in 1992). One of the guest speakers while emphasizing the importance of water and its conservation put forth a new dimension of water conservation by changing food habits. Indian staple diets from times immemorial have been centering around rice ( south) and wheat (north) .If we see the water requirement of these crops it takes around 750 liters of water to produce one Kg of Wheat while for rice the water requirement is more than double ( 1550 Liters). (http://www.reec.nsw.edu.au/k6/page/wa49.htm ).

Ever increasing demand for rice and wheat puts enormous pressure on existing water sources . This aggravates the existing problem of drinking water availability since the status of India is not very comfortable as far as drinking water availability is concerned . It is placed at 76 rank with 84% availability of drinking water.

http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_dri_wat_ava-health-drinking-water-availability .

The availability of drinking water is getting grim every day. As per one estimate 50% of the world's population will face acute water shortage by 2030. A report from the World bank predicts that all the major Indian cities will run dry in the coming 20 years.

Coming to the food habits and its role in water scarcity or water conservation the millets are the promising crops which require almost no irrigation for their cultivation contrary to very high water requirement of rice and wheat as stated above. India is the largest producers of Millets in the world( 106 lakhs tones per year (2007). Eight millets species (Sorghum, Finger millet, Pearl millet, Foxtail millet, Barnyard millet, Proso millet, Kodo millet and Little millet) are commonly cultivated under rain fed conditions in India. Millets are considered eco friendly crops which can be grown in dry conditions, poor soils, require minimum inputs and no fertilizer , provide nutritional value along with livelihood and food security. In fact Millets are being fielded as one of the promising crops to counter the major challenges of climate change arising due to increased global temperature, water scarcity and malnutrition.


A little change in food habits ( Rice and wheat based) by switching over to millets to the extent possible and promoting its cultivation can contribute a lot .

1 comment:

  1. good writeup. wondering how do we get the starch requirement if we feed on millets ? i believe in tropical countries starch intake is essential which is abundantly provided by rice and wheat. cheers !