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‘Farmers reluctant to invest in drip irrigation’

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REACHING OUT TO FARMERS: R. Vijaykumar, State Principal Secretary, Planning and Development Department, speaking at a programme on drip irrigation at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Coimbatore on Wednesday. —
REACHING OUT TO FARMERS: R. Vijaykumar, State Principal Secretary, Planning and Development Department, speaking at a programme on drip irrigation at Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in Coimbatore on Wednesday. —

Staff Reporter

COIMBATORE: Despite intensive Government efforts, there is a serious concern over the poor popularity of micro-irrigation among farmers in Tamil Nadu.

Recent survey shows that farmers have not fully understood the multiple benefits and potential outcome of using micro-irrigation, R. Vijaykumar, Principal Secretary, Planning and Development Department, Government of Tamil Nadu, Chennai, said here on Wednesday.

He was launching the programme “Drip Irrigation Capacity Building and Management Initiative for Maximising Productivity and Income” of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) and Irrigated Agriculture Modernisation and Water-Bodies’ Restoration and Management (IAMWARM) Project at the university.

Pointing out that the State Government had taken several initiatives since 1981 to promote micro-irrigation through various Departments, he added: “Till 2005, the Department of Agricultural Engineering has enabled coverage of 1.26 lakh hectares by spending Rs. 110 crore as subsidy. Also, the Department of Agriculture has covered 14,500 hectares with Rs. 17 crore subsidy. Private sugar mills have also contributed to area under micro-irrigation.”

Mr. Vijaykumar said the IAMWARM project focussed on micro-irrigation, System of Rice Intensification, and precision farming for increasing water use efficiency by farmers.

However, he added that much more needed to be done for increasing the adoption rate of drip irrigation among farmers in the State.

“Another study has revealed that farmers are reluctant to make large investments in drip irrigation. Therefore, innovative approaches are necessary to boost the acceptance and adoption rates,” Mr. Vijaykumar said.

P. Murugesa Boopathy, Vice-Chancellor, TNAU, said the subsidy that was being doled out by the Government had reduced considerably over the years. “In 1991 it was 90 per cent. Then it was reduced to 70 per cent and at present it is at 50 per cent. However, there has been a considerable increase in companies’ estimate for installing drip irrigation to the tune of Rs. 80,000 an acre.

Hence, the subsidy percentage has been further increased to 65 per cent with the Government share being 25 per cent.” The Vice-Chancellor added that the Government was considering offering subsidy for liquid fertilizers. He urged the Department of Agricultural Engineering to take more efforts in providing effective after sales services to farmers so as to improve the efficiency of micro-irrigation systems.

Madar Samad, Regional Director, International Water Management Institute (IWMI), South Asia Office, Hyderabad, and K. Palanisami, Director, IWMI-TATA Policy Research Programme, Hyderabad, spoke, among others.

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