This district, which has witnessed fifth monsoon failure since 2009, has finally started switching over to micro irrigation techniques to minimize its irrigation water requirements while getting a decent yield in horticultural crops.

On farm scientific water management through micro-irrigation (MI) is the most suitable method to boost horticultural production especially in fruits, vegetables, flowers, say progressive farmers in the district, who suffered a lot due to water scarcity. There is high strain on availability of water for irrigation and this is forcing people towards sustainable use of water to improve productivity. MI techniques have proved successful for horticultural crops and tested successfully for even paddy, cotton, maize, sugarcane and red gram.

Micro Irrigation system scales down requirement of labour and takes care of application of fertilizers. Moreover, to attract the farming community towards MI, the government offers 100 cent per subsidy for drip irrigation to small and marginal farmers holding up to five acres of land. Area under cultivation could be doubled with introduction of drip irrigation system. Drip irrigation will not only scale down production cost and reduce water use substantially but also help farmers achieve better yield.

Ever since this subsidized scheme was introduced in 2000, 2,160 hectares were covered under MI till 2011 with a subsidy of Rs. 4.96 crore. Between 2011 and 2014, another 2,115 hectares have been brought under MI as more farmers were attracted towards this technique and 100 per cent subsidy of Rs. 6 crore offered by the State Government.

More precisely, 538.97 hectares have been covered under MI during 2012 – 2013 and 810.84 hectare during 2013 – 2014 alone. Totally, 1,337 farmers have benefited during the past two years.

“The farmers, who have cultivated bitter gourd, mango, acid-lime, cocoa, coconut, banana, brinjal, cluster beans, chillies, curry leaves under MI in 13 blocks of the district, are getting attractive yields and income while water available for irrigation is really less. So, we appeal to the farming community to switch over to the MI technique,” said Deputy Director of Horticulture, Tirunelveli, S. Raja Mohamed.