A large extent of land in Paderu region in Visakhapatnam Agency is being left fallow even though the area has healthy soil and receives high rainfall, with many people migrating to other places in search of work.
As per the District Development Report 2019, about 36% of cropped area is irrigated and the remaining land is rainfed, which means over 74% of the land is being left as rabi fallow land.
To bring the rabi fallow land into the regular irrigation system, Wassan, an NGO engaged in welfare of tribal farmers, designed community solar-based lift irrigation systems in the tribal villages of Goppulavalasa and Chinarama, in the summer of 2020.
While Chinarama has already yielded two crops of paddy and horticulture was produced almost throughout the year, the tribal farmers of Goppulavalasa are happy doing horticulture across the year.
“This year, we have extended the facility to Pedagaruvu, and the first produce of seasonal horticulture is on its way,” said Dr. M.L. Sanyasi Rao, regional programme manager of Wassan.
Farmers of these villages are managing with social regulation norms in the distribution of water among them in their respective villages.
Pedagaruvu is a tribal hamlet located in Kotnapalli panchayat of Hukumpeta mandal. As many as 74 families from various tribes such as Konda Kammara, Kotia, Konda Dora and Valmiki inhabit the village. Agriculture is the major livelihood and a total of 200 acres of rainfed land is available in the village. Farmers grow crops majorly in Kharif season.
“Desi varieties of turmeric and pippali (Piper longum) are grown locally which are crops with a duration of 18 months, so farmers choose specific plots which have shade and retain moisture in summer. About 20% of the total land is occupied by these crops and the remaining 80% of the land is left fallow. Youth from these villages seasonally migrate in search of work soon after harvesting of kharif crop,” said Dr. Sanyasi Rao.
To make water available throughout the year, Wassan has provided facilities for lift irrigation using solar energy to secure crops from dry spells and irrigate rabi crops. Due to lack of three-phase electricity connection, the tribals are unable to use high-power pump sets to draw water from the perennial streams. A few farmers have tried using diesel engines but they could not continue due to an increase in production cost.
“In Pedagaruvu village, we have used a PVC pipeline for a length of 3.1 km, and a 10 HP motor is used with the support of solar energy, a combination of 28 solar panels, to provide water for irrigation for 54 acres of 23 farmers,” he said.
In Chinarama village a 10 HP pump-set has been installed and now 25 acres of land belonging to 22 farmers is being irrigated. In Goppulavalasa village, 64 acres of fallow land has come under irrigation.