Tokyo, Japan (March 21, 2014): A research program that pinpointed how perverse subsidies were causing India to export virtual water has won the coveted ‘Water for Life’ UN-Water Best Practices Award.
The IWMI-Tata Water Policy Research Program (ITP), a partnership between the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Colombo, Sri Lanka, and the Sir Ratan Tata Trust, Mumbai, India, scooped the award for its groundbreaking work linking energy use, food production and water availability in Indian agriculture.
“We are greatly honored by this prestigious award,” said Tushaar Shah, leader of ITP and a Senior Fellow at IWMI, who accepted the award in Tokyo on behalf of the research team. “Many, many partners and several hundred student interns have helped us along the way, but our focus has always been to support India’s smallholder farmers and preserve our precious natural resources.”
Commenting on the award the jury said, “In the past, a lack of communication and research in relation to water management in Indian agriculture has led to a paradoxical situation where farmers in regions with rapidly depleting groundwater get free or a highly subsidized power supply, while farmers in regions with abundant groundwater resources tend to economize on irrigation due to expensive diesel. As a result, water-scarce areas in India end up exporting ‘virtual water’ to water-abundant areas in the country. Examples such as this can be attributed to the fact that, while there is a lot of potentially useful scientific research being conducted in India, it often does not reach the policymakers. Thus, ITP tried to fill the gap between research and policy action by simultaneously engaging with scientists and policymakers.”