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Water quality, agricultural policy and science

Abstract

This paper analyses how agricultural policy and science deal with the problem of increasing exploitation of low quality irrigation water and consequent deterioration of water quality in the States of Punjab and Haryana in India. In these cereal growing tracts the policy objective of food security is translated into production technologies, price protection and subsidies. Deterioration of water quality is countered with technocentric solutions. The paper argues that the response of science to the complexities involved in natural resource problems or in the scientific understanding of farmers partial response to technological solutions recommended to improve degraded resources, is due to the existing “administrative rationalism” of natural resource bureaucracies. This administrative rationalism, “the problem-solving discourse which emphasizes the role of the expert rather than the citizen” allows policy and science to maintain their hierarchy in determining policy goals and technological solutions with scant ecological or democratic concerns. Sustainable use of water demands institutional reform in agricultural policy and the agricultural sciences.

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With an inter-disciplinary training in the agricultural sciences and economics, her publications address the history of and institutional reform in agricultural science, the evaluation of agricultural research, and the organization and measurement of agricultural research effort. This paper is based on an in-house project on “Ex-post evaluation of soil science technologies,” conducted during 1997–2001, in collaboration with Sunita Sangar (then QHS Fellow, NISTADS) whose Ph.D. thesis on the same topic has been submitted to IIT, Delhi in January 2002. Sunita Sangar has a degree in the life sciences, and is interested in science and technology policy issues related to soil and water resources. The authors are currently working on the NATP sponsored project, on an ecological economics framework for the evaluation of soil science research in India.

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Raina, R.S., Sangar, S. Water quality, agricultural policy and science. Know Techn Pol 14, 109–125 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12130-002-1018-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12130-002-1018-9

Keywords

  • Agricultural Policy
  • Agricultural Science
  • Alkaline Soil
  • Residual Sodium Carbonate
  • Poor Quality Water