52% of cultivated land has access to irrigation for first time: NITI Aayog

Context: For the first time, more than half of India’s cultivated land now has access to assured irrigation led by an expansion in micro projects, which have higher water-use efficiency, official data for 2022-23 show.

Irrigation in India

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  • According to NITI Aayog, in 2022-23, of the 141 million hectares of gross sown area in the country, nearly 73 million hectares, or 52%, had irrigation access, up from 41% in 2016.
  • 8 out of 73 million hectares have the micro irrigation facility
  • 40% of the total irrigated area are watered through canal networks, the remaining through groundwater.
  • The total potential for micro-irrigation in the country is estimated to be 60 million hectares. 
  • Conventional surface irrigation provides only 60% efficiency but drip irrigation has nearly 90% efficiency.
  • The country can create irrigation potential in about 60% of its arable land and 40% of the cultivable area will remain dependent on rains because it is not possible to create irrigation networks in certain regions due to hydrological and geographical reasons.

Related concepts and definitions:

  • Net Area Sown: This represents the total area sown with crops and orchards. Area sown more than once in the same year is counted only once. 
  • Gross Cropped Area: This represents the total area sown once and/or more than once in a particular year, i.e. the area is counted as many times as there are sowings in a year. This total area is also known as total cropped area or total area sown. 
  • Area Sown more than once: This represents the areas on which crops are cultivated more than once during the agricultural year. This is obtained by deducting Net Area Sown from Gross Cropped Area. 
  • Irrigated Area: The area is assumed to be irrigated for cultivation through such sources as canals (Govt. & Private), tanks, tube-wells, other wells and other sources. It is divided into two categories:
    • Net Irrigated Area: It is the area irrigated through any source once in a year for a particular crop. 
    • Total Net Un-irrigated Area: It is the area arrived at by deducting the net irrigated area from net sown area. 
    • Total/Gross Irrigated Area: It is the total area under crops, irrigated once and/or more than once in a year. It is counted as many times as the number of times the areas are cropped and irrigated in a year. 
    • Total/Gross Un-Irrigated Area: It is the area arrived at by deducting the gross irrigated area from the gross sown area. 

Cropping Intensity: It is the ratio of Net Area Sown to the Total Cropped Area.

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