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Indo-EU ‘Water4Crops’ Programme – a boon to water scarce agricultural sector

New Delhi, India (15 June 2016) ― The European Union and Government of India co-funded project Integrating Bio-treated Wastewater Reuse with Enhanced Water Use Efficiency to Support the Green Economy in EU and India has shown remarkable success in reducing water scarcity and making safe the reuse of wastewater in agriculture By constructing wetlands with plant species such as Cann indica, lemon grass (Cymbopogon), napier (Pennisetum perpureum X Pennisetum americarnum), para grass (Urochloa mutica), typha (Typha latifolia), water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), water lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) and a weed species Agaratum Conyzoides the chemical oxygen demand in wastewaters have been reduced by 30-92%. Moreover, yield evaluations have shown increased crop yields (14 to 40%) of crops like okra, brinjal and chilly irrigated with treated wastewater as compared to fresh water. l2016061584650 (1)

The secondary treatment of waste water for agriculture leads to more tertiary treated water being available for domestic use; impacting the availability of potable water for domestic purposes.

This was reported at the three-day review and planning meeting for Water4Crops project, held in New Delhi today.

Mr YS Chowdary, Hon’ble Minister of State, Ministry of Science & Technology and Ministry of Earth Sciences, Government of India, highlighted “the importance of treated wastewater for addressing the issues of sanitation and health in rural areas as well as meeting the demand of scarce water resources for agriculture to improve the livelihoods”.
water4Crops
Prof. K. VijayRaghavan Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India said, “We are delighted that the European Commission’s Framework Programme 7 (FP7) and the Department of Biotechnology initiative have promoted the sharing of research and technologies among participating consortia in India and Europe for the benefit of the common people We believe that working together globally will provide implementable solutions to the challenges facing India”.

Water4Crops is one of the largest EU-India collaborative projects co-funded by the Department of Biotechnology and the European Commission. The European Commission co-funded this project with €6 mn. in 2012, under its 7th Framework Program. In the same year, a similar twin project (Water4Crops-INDIA) was funded with €3 million (INR 25 crores approx.) by the Government of India through the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).

H.E. Mr. Tomasz Kozlowski, Ambassador of the European Union to India, said, “The EU and India have similar objectives in the area of research policies – in particular a focus on innovation, and on common societal challenges such as health, water and energy. Water is clearly a worldwide challenge and therefore its management requires new approaches and technologies. This is an area where the EU has significant experience and we are happy to work together with India. This project is a good example of how top-level research organisations from several European countries have joined forces with their counterparts in India to develop concrete solutions able to benefit both sides. We continue this partnership with India through the Water Forum”.

“Bilateral projects like Water4Crops in the area of wastewater treatment have strengthened the collaboration between partners from India and EU institutions and have also developed technologies and shared knowledge across the regions,” said Dr Antonio Lopez, Project Coordinator, Water4Crops, Europe.

The EU Consortium includes 21 partners from 8 Countries and the India-based consortium consists of 11 research and development partners led by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

Dr Suhas P Wani, Project Leader and Director, Asia Region, ICRISAT said, “This technology of treated domestic wastewater is finding acceptance among the rural people and has the potential to be scaled-up in the country to address issues of health and sanitation in rural areas as well as meeting the water demand for agriculture.”

Indian consortium partners have demonstrated the use of constructed wetland as decentralized wastewater treatment systems for both industrial and municipal wastewater. At the SABMiller plant in Sangareddy, Telangana, and K.C.P. Sugar and Industries Corporation Ltd in Lakshmipuram, Andhra Pradesh, constructed wetlands were prepared to treat the effluent coming from effluent treatment plant of the factories. Similarly, constructed wetlands were used to treat municipal wastewater at multiple locations in the Indian states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Karnataka.

Based on pilot sites at ICRISAT headquarters in Hyderabad and elsewhere, several watersheds supported by corporates under their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes as well as under the Government of Karnataka’s Bhoo Samrudhi program and Rythu Kosam the Decentralized Wastewater Treatment (DWT) approach is being implemented and popularized at 28 sites.

Currently, it has very good potential for inclusion in the Swatch Bharat Mission to overcome health hazards and ensure safe disposal or recycling of wastewater used in agriculture.