Australia's Rubicon Water improves water efficiency for India's farmers
Download the PDF version (222 KB)
Rubicon Water shows how innovative Australian technology and a consistent market focus can lead to commercial success in India.
Melbourne-based Rubicon Water focuses on improving large-scale, gravity-fed irrigation systems. The company was established in 1995 and offers advanced technology designed to sustainably increase global food and fibre production by improving water use efficiency.
Rubicon’s solutions autonomously control the delivery of irrigation water to farms in irrigation channels, which reduces losses and improves the reliability, flexibility and timeliness of supply. The company also has a range of technologies that improve water use efficiency on-farm.
Australian technical expertise
In early 2019, Rubicon secured a sale worth A$200 million to a subsidiary
of the Government of Karnataka (a state in India). It is one of the
company’s largest ever contracts.
This project will see Rubicon work in partnership with Medha Servo Drives
of Hyderabad to deliver an autonomous control solution which consists of
smart software, a radio communications network and 4,300 automated
irrigation gates and meters. Installation has already commenced.
In a state where farmers are dependent on irrigation and water efficiency
is low, this solution will help farmers optimise their water resources for
maximum production. By reducing losses, the solution will increase water
availability and enable an additional 142,580 hectares of un-serviced land
to be brought into service, along with 37,000 hectares of currently saline
The project will also help improve the livelihoods of farmers by providing
them with a reliable, near on-demand water supply service, which will
enable them to grow more diverse and higher-value crops.
Like Australia, India is investing to improve the efficiency of its
irrigation water use. Rubicon has been central to the modernisation of
irrigation areas in Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin over the last 10 years
and its autonomous control solution is the core technology used in the
modernisation of the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation District (GMID).
The Australian and Victorian Governments are investing A$2 billion to
create a more efficient automated water delivery network, improving
agricultural productivity and increasing water availability. Prior to
modernisation, up to 900 gigalitres of water was lost across the network
annually. Water efficiency in the modernised areas is already hitting 90
Establishing a presence in India
For its Karnataka contract, Rubicon has established an Indian subsidiary in
Bengaluru and formed a joint venture with local company Medha Servo Drives.
Rubicon will provide software developed in its Melbourne head office and
equipment from its Australian manufacturing plant in Shepparton, Victoria.
Medha will then assemble and install the equipment in India. The local
partnership has proven to be an important aspect of Rubicon’s success in
India, but the journey to this point required persistence and a long-term
Sumith Choy, Rubicon’s General Manager, India, says Austrade has been a
consistent supporter in its India journey, starting with its first market
visit. Rubicon was part of the Australia Business Week in India (ABWI) 2015
mission, an event Choy found to be ‘well organised, and a great forum to
meet a variety of prospective partners and understand the market.’
In addition to CEO briefings and the ABWI mission, Austrade facilitated
introductions to State Water Resource departments and helped showcase
Rubicon’s capabilities to customers in India.
Looking ahead to the future
India has 18 per cent of the world’s population but only 4 per cent of its
fresh water. Of that, more than 80 per cent is used in agriculture. Every
drop counts, especially in severely water-stressed regions of the country.
Currently, 60 per cent of that water is lost before it can be effectively
used for irrigation.
As India starts to tackle issues of productivity and sustainability, it is
increasingly looking to international expertise and experience. According
to the Global Food Security Index, India was ranked 72nd out of 113 nations
for food security in 2019.
India has more than 1.3 billion people, most of whom depend on locally
produced crops for their diets. As it transitions to a more open economy
with an emphasis on improving living standards and sustainability, there
will be opportunities for Australian companies in water management and
infrastructure more broadly.
The Australian Trade and Investment Commission – Austrade – contributes to
Australia's economic prosperity by helping Australian businesses, education
institutions, tourism operators, governments and citizens as they:
- develop international markets
- win productive foreign direct investment
- promote international education
- strengthen Australia's tourism industry
- seek consular and passport services.
Whereas every effort has been made to ensure the information given in this document is accurate, the Australian Trade and Investment Commission does not provide warranty or accept liability for any loss arising from reliance on such information.
©Commonwealth of Australia 2019