TNAU has developed climate change adaptation tool for ryots of Ponnaniar Basin

The ClimaAdapt Project funded by Norway, will benefit 1,000 to 1,500 farmers in seven villages of the Ponnaniar Basin, about 60 km from here.

V. Geethalakshmi and A. Lakshmanan, scientists of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, accompanying a team of Norwegian officials and engineers visiting the basin on Thursday, said Norway had extended Rs.10 crore for benefiting Ponnaniar Basin and Kalingarayaan Canal basin, both of the Cauvery. The project, which focuses on adaptation to climate change by the farmers tilling 2,100 acres of land in Ponnaniar Basin, is aimed at economising water usage and improving productivity.

Similar programme is in progress in the Krishna Basin of Andhra Pradesh.

The project being implemented by the TNAU jointly with Water Resource Organisation, Irrigation Management Training Institute, Tiruchi, and M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai, is expected to be completed by 2016.

For this the TNAU has developed climate change adaptation tool box after field validations and the technology is being scaled up in both the study basins.

Though 70 per cent of the farmers in Ponnaniar Basin are involved in cultivating paddy, TNAU would not lose sight of other crops such as vegetables and flowers .

The rainfall in the basin is 890 mm and Ponnaniar reservoir has a capacity of 120 million cubic feet.

The spadework for the project started in October 2012 and field study had found that it would be possible to save 30 per cent water by using System of Rice Intensification (SRI) method of cultivation . Besides, the minimum increase in yield could be as high as 25 per cent. Against the 4-4.5 tonnes of paddy harvested per hectare earlier , productivity had touched 7 tonnes under SRI method.

The focus would be on “capacity building” of farmers. While training would be given to trainers, thrust would be on improving water and land use efficiency, labour shortage (farm mechanisation), and extreme weather conditions. Two automatic weather stations would be set up in the basin .

The programme would directly provide inputs to the State climate change adaptation framework, specifically to agriculture and water sectors, through a consultative process involving all stakeholders.

The overall goal of the integrated programme is to improve the adaptive capacity of agriculture and water sectors in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh by contributing to the adaptation and mitigation strategies and participating in the development of climate change adaptation framework.

A village knowledge centre at Manpathaimedu of Mughavalur panchayat was inaugurated by Signe Gilen, Counsellor, Royal Norwegian Embassy.

This would clear all doubts of farmers and new technology such as SMS would be deployed to enlighten them on issues such as weather, crop condition, and inputs.

As this is a project implemented with the active co-operation of the State government, that too for small and marginal farmers, there would be no problem in getting them subsidy and other governmental assistance.

K. Velusamy, president, Mughavalur panchayat, said the response from the villagers for the project has been overwhelming.

Those who visited the Ponnaniar Basin include Suresh Mathevan, Advisor, Norwegian Embassy, and a team of scientists from the Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental Research, Norway, headed by Nagothu Udaya Sekhar.