Prosperity evades C’garh as farmers shun drip irrigation

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 03 Feb 2018 10:26:19


By Sandeep Sengupta,


Production of wheat per hectare in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh is 90 quintals whereas in Chhattisgarh the yield on the same size landholding is 20
to 25 quintals. A reason behind the high yield in Madhya Pradesh is drip irrigation by farmers. However the farmers in Chhattisgarh are either ignorant or are reluctant to adopt the drip irrigation system.

Not only wheat, the per-hectare production of mustard and gram in MP are 60 and 35 quintals respectively whereas in Chhattisgarh the yield of these crops is between 12 to 16 and 18 to 20 quintals respectively, which is comparatively very low, informed Agriculture experts of Indira Gandhi Krishi Vishwavidyalaya (IGKV) while elaborating on the benefits of drip irrigation and its huge absence in Chhattisgarh.

Drip Irrigation has well established its advantages in terms of crop yield and enhancing the value of land in terms of its fertility and price as well, but it still is not widely accepted by the farmers of Chhattisgarh. Water instead of the old practice of flooding the field is, trickled for crops, so it is also known as trickle irrigation.

Total area of crop coverage in Chhattisgarh is 48 lakh hectares and this potential in terms of sowing is fully attained during the Kharif season. But, in the Rabi season, the crop coverage is up to 18.5 lakh hectares of which drip irrigation is in practice only in 50 to 60,000 hectares.

There is no drip irrigation presently in production of cereals, pulses and oil seeds in the state. It is however noticed that for vegetable and fruits farmers are using drip but mostly large farmers. In case of land holding below one hectare the farmer falls in the category of marginal farmer and out of the total number of farmers in Chhattisgarh, 76 percent are marginal farmers. The farmer is categorized as small farmer if the land holding is from one to two hectares and their number in the state is around 15 percent of the total strength. Thus, the marginal and small farmers make 91 percent in the state, the sources said.

In Rabi season, the farmers prefer sprinklers or flood irrigation and both these methods amounts to great wastage of the invaluable natural resource- Water. It may be mentioned that in this season, water has to be supplied to farmers from reservoirs and canals. The wastage can therefore be viewed as imprudent because there is already the much economical alternative in drip irrigation.

Drip irrigation needs network of pipes, tubing valves, and emitters. Farmers need to purchase it from market. Government subsidy is also available for it to benefit the farmers. For marginal and small farmers, this proven scientific solution is in form of gravitational drip in which water can be reached to the crops from overhead tanks using lateral connections.

The agriculture sector is the highest user of water, consuming 70 percent of total water available for human consumption. Drip irrigation is ‘Point Application’ of water and nutrients as well. The water slowly drips or trickles to the roots of plants, satisfying aptly the requirement and not allowing any wastage. Adopting sprinkler or flood irrigation is in fact giving a bucket of water to a person who needs only a glass of it to satisfy thirst. Adopting drip irrigation is giving the water in right quantity, the experts explained.

From farmers’ income point of view, drip irrigation is a boon as by using the same quantity of water much more crops can be grown. Take for example Banana, a crop that yields for consecutive three years after plantation. In an experiment in Bilaspur, it has been proved by using drip that the crop yielded for four years. The production increases by 2 to 2.5 times in this crop. Drip has proven to be highly beneficial in Papaya and Guava as well. At Berla near Durg, a farmer Anil Sharma, who hails from Haryana, is growing fruits on 400 acres and his prosperity can be gauged from the Mercedes car he maintains. IGKV Director of Extension, Dr MP Thakur agreed that the drip irrigation is a means of prosperity for the farmers and he observed that farmers in Chhattisgarh are mostly unaware of it.

On the reason behind Chhattisgarh farmers not adopting drip, the agriculture experts have different opinions. Some of them said that farmers here are mostly unaware of it and even such farmers, who are having bore-well, prefer sprinkler. Some experts said the government subsidy is not at all benefiting the farmers. The subsidy scheme is not competitive with markets. Per hectare cost of drip in case of vegetable is estimated at Rs 1.20 lakhs and after 50 percent subsidy, the farmer still needs to pay Rs 60,000 to government. The farmers find that in open market the price is Rs 60,000 or any figure near it. Hence, the subsidy is not beneficial and on the other hand, the marginal and small farmers do not have the investment capacity to buy from market. The same is the case with fruits, the experts added.

Reacting to these observations, Director of State Agriculture Department M S Kerketta stated that it’s a matter of the Horticulture Department. However Director of Horticulture Department Bhupendra Pandey denied that the government subsidy is not benefitting the farmers.