There is a large gap between generation, collection and treatment of waste water and it is anticipated that wastewater generation rate will reach about 130 million m3/ day by 2051 with increasing urban population in India. Grey/wastewater is a potential source of water and could potentially be diverted safely for agricultural production after some of the essential treatment. Water4Crops provides an opportunity to efficiently utilize low quality industrial (food) and municipal wastewater and facilitate developing various methodologies for wastewater treatment and its feasible use in agriculture. This project would also describe practical solutions of wastewater treatment and its management which open-up various avenues to scale-up such technologies.
Treatment and management of wastewater would not only reduce freshwater demand in agriculture but also helpful in protecting groundwater contamination and water quality at downstream water bodies. Sludge produced after wastewater treatment potentially could be used for biogas production as it contains large amount of organic and nitrogen elements. Degraded slurry further could be used for fertilizer purpose in agricultural fields or could safely been dumped to potholes. Such developments on community scale would not only address wastewater management and food production but also would help in achieving energy security to some extent. Use of treated wastewater in agriculture could also bring down fertilizer cost as it will hold some of the required nutrients.
The Water4Crops project will be benefited from the academic exchange between European and Indian partners. The technology developed by the European partners could be directly adopted for wastewater treatment under Indian conditions. Capacity for using advanced monitoring equipment such as moisture measurements systems will be developed by involving European partners.
In addition to academic exchange between Indian and European researchers, public and private partnership is also required for providing the solutions for the problem. In Water4Crops project, researchers and industries will work together which promotes faster development process. This will lead to benefit a large number of small and marginal farmers in peri-urban areas whose livelihoods are mainly dependent on wastewater irrigated agriculture.
According to national policy for Women in Agriculture (2008), women constitute 40 per cent of the agricultural workforce and this percentage is rising. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) recognize the need to promote gender equality and empowerment of women, the need to alleviate poverty and ensure sustainable environmental management.
Water4Crops project will addresses the gender aspects by encouraging women to involve in undertaking small-scale agricultural activities. The process of wastewater treatment will help women members of small and marginal farming community to undertake vegetable cultivation, developing kitchen gardens, etc. Large quantity of wastewater treatment and availability of treated water will support them to diversify the cropping systems from low-value to high-value crops which provide ample opportunities to achieve food, employment and income security. This will reduce the drudgery of women, improves the quality of life, and increases nutrition status of the family members. Wastewater treatment and reuse will also encourage women members to start micro-enterprises activities for enabling water led development through inclusive market oriented development.
- Increase availability of suitable/safe irrigation water for peri-urban agriculture
- Reuse of industrial wastewater will reduce contamination of natural water resources
- Low-cost technologies will improve reuse of wastewater in rural area
- Effective and safe use of low quality water will reduce pressure on fresh water resources
- Watershed development activities in association with CSR initiatives will improve groundwater recharge and availability of water
- Improved agronomic practices and crop varieties will improve crop yield and resource use efficiency, and eventually enhance the livelihoods
- Micro-irrigation system will increase water use efficiency
- Integrated seawater farming system will improve the livelihoods of people from coastal areas