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Farmers complain about quality of drip irrigation equipment

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Yield down: Farmers complain that drip irrigation has done them no good, as the Government-approved equipment have not performed efficiently.
Yield down: Farmers complain that drip irrigation has done them no good, as the Government-approved equipment have not performed efficiently.

Karthik Madhavan

BHAVANI: It is a problem that trickles in. Sometimes with every drop of water and sometimes without.

If it is with water then it has got to do with the pressure with which the water flows through the laterals horizontal pipes that sprinkle water in the drip irrigation system. If it is without, then it is the block in the laterals. And, either way, the farmers who have installed the drip irrigation system say they have not got their money’s worth.

Take for example the case of R. Mohan, the head of the Mettur West Bank Canal Farmers’ Association. He drip irrigated 30 acres of sugarcane to only find the yield go down. “In the last three years, since installing drip irrigation system, I have suffered a loss of 2,000 tonnes in 30 acres,” he says adding the loss works out to about Rs. 20 lakh.

Loss

In per acre terms, Mr. Mohan harvested about 55 tonnes prior to installing the system and since drip irrigating his fields, he gets about 30 tonnes, an average loss of 25 tonnes.

To drip irrigate the sugarcane fields, Mr. Mohan got a subsidy of Rs. 5,000 an acre from the Government. In all, he spent about Rs. 12 lakh. There are several farmers like Mr. Mohan who have found the drip irrigation system not working as promised and investment going waste.

Such farmers invest anywhere between Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 30,000 an acre depending on the crop. The subsidy also varies according to the crop.

According to sources in the Horticulture Department, which is looking after drip irrigation in the district, the farmers get Rs. 13,500 to drip irrigate an acre of sugarcane, Rs. 13,250 for an acre of turmeric, Rs. 10,650 for an acre of banana and Rs. 6,450 for an acre of coconut.

The Department gives subsidy to a family up to 20 acres. And, in Erode the Department has managed to bring 1,500 hectares of sugarcane, 200 ha of turmeric, nearly 400 ha of banana and 150 ha of coconut under drip irrigation.

Though the Government provides subsidy, the farmers will have to spend more as the Government approved drip irrigation companies charge more. Companies that the Government has not approved but carry ISI mark charge about 50 per cent of the Government approved companies’ price, says C. Nallasami, president of LBP Farmers’ Association.

Seconding Mr. Mohan’s opinion, he says many farmers who went in for drip irrigation have found the quality of the equipment to be poor. The Government has approved a little over 20 companies and among them, Netafarm Irrigation India Ltd., Jain Irrigation systems, and Plastroplasson Industries are the leading players.

The farmers say to promote drip irrigation, the Government must put in place a system where the farmers are allowed to choose the company of their choice and given subsidy if the company’s equipment is ISI certified.

The Department sources say they have not received any such proposal from the farmers.

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