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CAPACITY BUILDING IN NATIONAL PLANNING FOR FOOD SECURITY IN PUNJAB :
In collaboration with United Nations Environment Programme, GIST Advisory conducted a study on food security and its trade-offs with ecosystem services in Punjab. The study is part of a larger UNEP Project aimed at addressing the increasing food security deficits and decline in ecosystem services by conducting pilot studies for strengthening the capacity of national policymakers and stakeholders in two food-insecure countries, India (Punjab State) and in Uganda. The high-yield crop intensification, subsidised access to electricity for drawing water for irrigation and increased chemical fertiliser use have culminated in several negative ecological externalities, such as depletion in underground water and negative impacts on soil fertility. The study highlights the trade-offs of food production with ecosystem services like water quantity and quality, soil structure and fertility, crop diversity and health. The study conducts detailed analysis of policy issues and provides feasible, practical recommendations for sustainable agricultural production using an ecosystem management approach.
One of the key findings of the study was the link between water demand in Punjab and the role played by the agricultural sector in exacerbating the emerging water crisis in the State. It was observed that Punjab's water demand increased to 4.8 million hectares metre in 2010-11, while supply has remained more or less around 3.13 million hectares metre (see figure). Consequently, the state is witnessing a water deficit of 1.63 million hectares metre - a precarious situation further worsened by dependency on rice cultivation, free provisioning of electricity for irrigation and large-scale use of submersible pumps for groundwater irrigation.