Farmers adopt local micro irrigation to mitigate the impact of water scarcity-Jayashree Bhosale
-The Economic Times
PUNE: In a country where about a third of farmland is drought-prone, farmers have started adopting technologies that help mitigate the impact of water scarcity and maximise output with minimum inputs.
Micro irrigation is the known technology to save water which has been used successfully by countries like Israel. Despite government subsidy, micro irrigation is not affordable to a large number of farmers. This has led to a widespread adoption of cheaper micro-irrigation systems of the local companies.
"The use of cheaper micro-irrigation systems is growing rapidly. Those who cannot afford to spend about Rs 30,000 required for the standard micro-irrigation systems covered under government subsidy schemes are opting for the cheaper sets. Though they are not covered under subsidy, farmers afford the cost," said Shreeram Gadhve, president, Vegetable Growers' Association of India.
Drip irrigation reduces water requirement by 50 per cent while the use of mulching paper, which controls evaporation, brings down water requirement to about one fourth, say farmers. Gadhve said, "We expect the area under mulching to increase by tenfold by next year. Mulching reduces requirement of fertilisers and increases production due to better development of route zone and reduces pest incidence which means less number of sprays."
Use of local, non-hybrid seed varieties is another way in which farmers try to maximise their returns in times of drought. "Despite our advisories, farmers go for local varieties when rainfall is deficient. Though the yield of local, non-hybrid varieties is less compared to hybrids, in drought conditions, they get better yields," said Dr B Venkateswarlu, director, Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture.