As a part of 71st Foundation Day celebrations, an international Webinar on the topic “Agricultural Water Management Strategies in Changing Situations” was organized on 24th June 2020. The webinar, attended by 200+ professionals from around the world, lasted over three hours and covered pertinent water sector issues ranging from Regulatory Interventions, Irrigation development strategies, Integrated Water Management to the future of Micro-Irrigation Techniques. Presentations from National Committees (India, Itlay, Morocco and China) were also made during the webinar.
ICID President, Eng. Felix Reinders delivered the welcome speech and gave a brief overview of ICID’s evolution since its humble beginning 71 years ago in 1950. After explaining the ICID mission, objectives, activities, and expansion over the years, the President also reminded that the present-day challenges of feeding a growing population amidst climate change and its impact on the global water resources.
The Secretary of Indian Ministry of Water Resources presented the key-note address and also congratulated ICID for its steadfast growth over the 7 decades. He shared his experiences of Indian scenario and identified national food security or self-sufficiency as key driver for agricultural water management (AWM). The Secretary pointed out that in India the water use efficiency and agricultural productivity as well as groundwater level are low compared to the similar sized population and area of neighboring country China. The focus of the present government’s demand-side management includes smart irrigation using approaches such as micro-irrigation systems (MIS), deficit irrigation and wastewater application in agriculture.
The first presentation was by Mr. K.P. Bakshi, the former chairman of an Indian state water resources regulatory authority on “Regulatory Interventions in Water Sector”. He talked about the role of such agencies in the water sector in India based on his experiences of heading the Maharashtra State’s regulatory body. The primary roles played by the regulator include water tariff rationalization based on volumetric water use efficiency, water entitlements of various sectors/stakeholders and water management by water user associations (WUA), designing state level water policy, institutional reforms and proactive administrative mechanisms. He shared that regulatory bodies like do improve the water availability for various sectoral activities.
FAO Representative, Ms. Sasha Koo-Oshima, after congratulating ICID network, presented FAO’s response to the global food and water challenges using WASAG, a global water scarcity management network of like-minded international partners and countries. She talked about the various aspects of WASAG of which ICID is a very active member in thematic working groups of ICID’s interest. She identified the challenges ahead in AWM and the urgent need of partnering for effective response to address demographic, nutritional and climatic changes. She expressed her satisfaction with her involvement in ICID working groups and major events which FAO has steadfastly supported for many decades.
Towards the later part of the session, presentations were made by various National Committees.
Dr. Ding Kunlun, Vice President Honorary from Chinese National Committee of ICID (CNCID) gave an overview of Chinese assessment of changes in the situation (demographic and climatic), current status of irrigation in China and the response strategies for the Chinese water sector. The demand for water is increasing in all sectors of the Chinese economy and water allocation has gained significant importance in the strategy development. Agriculture uses almost 62% of the available freshwater. He also showed the visuals of Hetao Irrigation System in China that has been included in the ICID Register of World Heritage Irrigation Structures. He concluded his presentation with an invitation to all participants for the 4th World Irrigation Forum of ICID to be held in the Chinese capital Beijing in the year 2022.
The second presentation was from the Indian National Committee of ICID (INCID). Mr. R. K. Jain, Chairman of INCID and Central Water Commission (CWC) spoke about its long-term cooperation with ICID and joint conduct of several events. CWC, an apex organization has contributed several manuals and guidelines for design and operation of irrigation infrastructure that are available to ICID member countries and partners. He explained the role of CWC and its evolution in India’s water sector, and in improving irrigation potential and water utilization efficiency through modernization of irrigation infrastructure such as piped distribution network, MIS and canal network improvement. More recently, National Water Academy of CWC and ICID have planned to organize several distance learning courses for water resources engineers, planners and managers with the first course on MIS.
Dr. Marco Arcieri, ICID Vice President and Secretary General of Italian National Committee of ICID (ITAL-ICID) briefly shared EU-wide framework for international cooperation on water issues as agriculture still plays a significant role in the rural economy of many EU countries and regions, including Italy. He identified that new out-of-the-box smart solutions are needed for future post-COVID19 work in the area of AWM. IRRIFRAME tool, as a case study, was described, which is an IT-based solution to facilitate information sharing with farmers in a transparent manner for efficient water use at the farm level in the agriculture sector. He identified the important part that professional network of water resources experts such as ICID have in promoting efficiency in the global water sector.
The last presenter of the session, Dr. El Houssine Bartali , Vice President, Morocco National Committee of ICID (ANAFIED), demonstrated the state of irrigation in the country, its role in increasing food production that allows agricultural exports to foreign markets and the on-going projects of the government addressing AWM. While the country has 36 M people living on 700,000 sqkm area have access to only 1.8 Billion sqm surface water, indicating a serious water scarcity problem. The country is able to irrigate only 1.6 Mha of its 8.7 Mha arable land. ANAFIED will be hosting an international conference, 5th African Regional Conference, 71st IEC Meeting of ICID and a young professionals training program in December 2020; and he extended an invitation to the webinar participants for these events.
Concluding remarks and vote of thanks were presented by Secretary General Eng. Ashwin B. Pandya. He thanked the panelists for sharing their experiences, case studies and expert opinions with all the participants. He informed that the webinar presentations and recordings will be made available at <http://icid-ciid.org/inner_page/66>;
- Welcome address - Agricultural Water Management Strategies in Changing Situations by Eng. Felix Britz Reinders, President, ICID
- Keynote Address by Mr U.P. Singh, Secretary, (D/o WR, RD and GR), Govt. of India
- Agricultural Water Management Strategies in Changing Situation by Mr K.P. Bakshi, MWRRA Former Chairperson, Mumbai
- Challenges Ahead in Agricultural Water Management: Partnering for Effective Response by Ms. Sasha Koo-Oshima, Deputy Director, Land and Water Division, FAO-Rome
- Water-saving Irrigation Development Strategies in Changing Situation in China by Dr. Ding Kunlun, Vice President Hon., ICID
- Indian National Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (INCID) by Mr Rajendra Kumar Jain, Chairman CWC and Chairman INCID
- Impact and Recovery from COVID-19 in the Irrigation Drainage Sector in Italy by VP Mr Dr Marco Arcieri, Secretary General, Italian NC ICID (ITAL-ICID)
- Management Trends for Protecting Agricultural Water and Coping with Water Scarcity in Morocco by Pr El Houssine Bartali, Vice President of ANAFIDE