Purvi Mehta, deputy director and head of Asia for agriculture at The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, spoke to CNBC-TV18 about tackling water crisis in India.
"Water shortage this time of the year leading up to the monsoon is not unusual in most parts of the country. However, this time especially in prominent agriculture states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, etc. the water shortage has been acute and the delay in monsoon has pushed the rainfall deficiency to about 45 percent which is concerning,” Mehta said on Tuesday.
“I think the government’s ambition of promoting agriculture sector as a growth engine and the constraints of monsoon, these are not two contradictory things. I think they are pretty linked because one of the things that our higher investments in agriculture will do is to reduce our dependencies on weather and especially monsoon. So, I think these two factors are very related in terms of the agriculture growth emphasis and the challenges that the weather has brought,” Mehta said.
On Kharif crop sowing, she said, “So far about 82 lakh hectare has been sown across the country which is not very bad but it is about 9 percent less than what was sown by June 15 last year. So, about 9 percent less sowing which is quite significant, but the data is a bit early and the data is a little non-conclusive because the hope is that the monsoon will catch up.”
“We have seen increased investments especially in last 2-3 years on making our agriculture system more monsoon resilient and addressing the challenge of water,” she added.