‘In Bijapur, yield has increased by 20 to 25 per cent in last two years’
The National Initiative on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA), a pilot project to help dryland farmers, has shown good results. It was taken up by the Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture, Hyderabad, a constituent organisation of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), two years ago.
The project, being implemented in three districts — Bijapur, Belgaum and Bangalore Rural — through the Regional Agricultural Research Stations (RARSs), has a multipronged approach to help dryland farmers get better yields with the available water.
M.S. Shirahatti, Agriculture Manager of the RARC here and co-principal investigator, told The Hindu that owing to drastic and unstable climatic conditions, dryland farmers were badly affected.
“Simple and effective methods are needed to retain moisture in the soil. The NICRA was formulated to address this primary concern by coming up with new ideas. This has been paying rich dividends since its implementation around two years ago,” Dr. Shirahatti said.
He said that the NICRA had formulated four plans to deal with the problem. To have a contingency cropping plan where different crops resilient to climate change are promoted; developing simple methods for water conservation to retain moisture and to increase groundwater level; promote cheaper and effective agricultural tools to minimise expenditure on labour; and to ensure optimum usage of any wasteland for agricultural/horticultural purposes.
He said that the RARC had selected around 40 hectares of land at Kavalgi village of Bijapur taluk to implement the NICRA.
“We took up the project in the village around two years ago on the lands of some 96 farmers. Our simple and cheaper methods have worked wonderfully. In spite of insufficient rainfall, the agricultural output has increased by 20 to 25 per cent in the last two years,” Dr. Shirahatti said.
He said that the project had essentially helped small and marginal farmers who could not spend much on getting irrigation facility.
Citing an example, he said that after promoting the concept of ‘compartment bunds’ in the fields, rainwater was retained in the soil even during dry weather, leading to an increase in agricultural output.
To a question, he said the RARC here had been collecting data and preparing the annual report on the success of the project.
“We will be submitting the report to the government so that the project can be replicated, through the Agriculture Department, in other parts of the State,” Dr. Shirahatti said.