Tamil Nadu

Farmers harvest success from system that needs less water

Farmers using cono weeder in a paddy field in Manakal village near Lalgudi. Photo: A. Muralitharan  

In a region that has been famous for generous use of the Cauvery water [whenever available], farmers are increasingly adopting a cultivation method that requires less water.

A large number of farmers in the Tiruchi district who went in for ‘kuruvai’ paddy crop in the filter point areas in June amidst concerns over the dwindling water table had successfully adopted the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) to reduce water consumption substantially.

The method, which helps reduce water consumption by 25-50 per cent and promises better yield, has been adopted in over 60 per cent of the area covered under ‘kuruvai’ paddy in the district this year. The coverage of kuruvai had come down to 8,577 acres in the district against the normal area of 16,000 acres given the prolonged dry spell.

The State government had to implement a special package to help farmers in the filter point areas in the delta to take up the cultivation.

The package included three phase power supply for 12 hours a day, supply of bio-fertilizers, micro nutrients and pesticides free of cost. Besides, HDPE pipes were given to farmers free to help them pump water from borewells.

Farmers say that the measures, coupled with the adoption of the SRI, had helped them raise the crop successfully.

“The water table in our village had gone down by 10 to 15 feet. Thankfully, we were able to pump water from our borewells as power was available. The pipes given by the government also helped in preventing wastage of water,” said C. Rajeshkhanna, a farmer of Manakkal near Lalgudi.

Lalgudi block, one of the fertile belts in the district, accounts for a major portion of the crop with nearly 7928 acres. Of this, SRI had been adopted in 5,290 acres thanks to the efforts of the officials of the Agriculture Department. The water consumption had gone down by more than 30 per cent, say farmers of the village.

The efficacy of the cultivation method had already been demonstrated in the village. A father-son duo, Mohammed Haneefa and Abdul Rahman, had bagged prizes for recording the highest yield by adopting SRI in the district over the past two years by recording a yield of 5.5 to 6 tonnes an acre. .

“We are able to harvest at least 60 bags (of 60 kg each) an acre using SRI against the normal of 40-45 bags under traditional method,” said Mr.Rajesh Khanna, who has been adopting the method for the past three years.

SRI is also better suited for farm mechanization and this is a big plus given the shortage of labourers and rising wages, the farmers say.

In fact, the entire ‘kuruvai’ paddy crop in Manakkal village, accounting for about 260 acres, has been raised under SRI this year. “This is one of the six villages where we implemented the ‘whole village concept’ to promote the SRI,” said Gururaj Singh, Joint Director of Agriculture.

The Department plans to adopt the ‘whole village concept’ to promote SRI in as many as 84 villages across the district for ‘kuruvai’, ‘thaladi’ and ‘samba’ crops, according to R. Chandrasekaran, Deputy Director (Central schemes), Agriculture.

With ‘samba’ coverage expected to touch 1.50 lakh acres (making up for the ‘kuruvai’ shortfall) in the district this year in the wake of release of water for irrigation and good storage of the Mettur reservoir, the department is gearing up to promote SRI in 90,000 acres.

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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 1:35:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/farmers-harvest-success-from-system-that-needs-less-water/article5045872.ece

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