Special Correspondent

"Key to problems in agriculture lies in farmers organising themselves as associations"

CHENNAI: One village in every block should be identified for demonstrating and implementing a community-based participatory approach to water resources management in rural areas, M. Velayutham, Executive Director of the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation and soil scientist, said on Wednesday.

He made this suggestion in the context of the Central Government's decision to observe 2007-2008 as the Year of Water with focus on "more crop and income per drop of water." For this, agricultural experts and engineers should work together with agriculturists and water users' associations, Dr. Velayutham said, addressing a seminar organised by the Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC) and the Chennai chapter of the Indian Meteorological Society in connection with the National Science Day.

Given the nature of landholding in the country, the key to several problems lay in farmers organising themselves as well-knit cooperative associations and collectively accessing technology, capital, inputs and market linkages they need.

Noting that the efficiency of the country's irrigation systems was only 25 to 30 per cent as against the worldwide average of 40 to 45 per cent, he called for modernising the distribution network, including canals and channels.