Eighteen months ago the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) launched the National Initiative on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA) in Vadavathur – the driest area in this rainfall shadow district – to enhance the resilience of agriculture through development and application of improved production and risk management technologies.

Since then (August 2011) a few proactive farmers of that village have been taking various steps to step up agriculture and to improve their standard of living, with the technical guidance and support from the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) which is the implementing agency for the project. One such measure was setting up artificial ponds where water was stored using thick plastic sheet.

Rainfall

This project was brought here as rainfall in this village was only 400 mm per annum against the district’s average (900 mm) for over 20 years. NICRA has helped farmers double their cultivable area where agriculture was almost impossible for years, says Head of the KVK, Namakkal, Dr. B. Mohan.

Farmer K. Nagarajan who is among the five villagers who were ready to establish an artificial pond on his small agricultural land on a trial basis, has stagnated water in the seepage proof tanks in which he rears freshwater fish and sells them and also uses the water with natural manure (fish waste) to irrigate his fields where he grows small onions and fodder for his cattle.

“My pond is on 10 cents with which I am irrigating 2.5 acres, for which I invested Rs. 20,000 while KVK provided me with plastic lining sheet worth about Rs. 20,000. I have harvested about 60 bags of small onion (86 kg a bag) in one acre and fetch me Rs. 2,000 a bag,” he said.

Small onion

Dr. Mohan noted that small onion is a 90-day crop and these farmers are harvesting it twice a year and make a profit of more than Rs. 3 lakh per annum by conserving water in the these ponds.

“During the rest of the tear they grow fodder for cattle”, he added.

P. Balusamy and his wife Dhanalakshmi have gone a step further as they have irrigated their paddy and groundnut field in this method.

Principal Scientist of ICAR, Bengaluru, and Nodal Officer of NICRA – Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Puducherry and Lakshadeep – D. Srinivasa Reddy told The Hindu that NICRA was implemented in 100 districts across India that faced extreme changes in climatic conditions that hindered agricultural activities.

“After witnessing the success of farmers who have established artificial ponds more than 50 farmers have evinced interest in establishing a similar facility in their farms. Arrangements will be made to help those interested farmers to establish such ponds during the coming financial year by sharing expenses incurred by them in establishing the same”, Dr. Reddy added after visiting the beneficiaries here on Friday.

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