NABARD’s roadmap for boosting agriculture in Ariyalur district

Even as the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has earmarked a lion’s share of credit for agriculture and allied activities in its Potential Linked Credit Plan (PLP) for Ariyalur district, one of the most backward districts in the State, it has suggested a number of steps to boost agriculture there.

The average rainfall of the district is 1,043 mm, according to the PLP. And Kollidam, Maruthayaru and Vellaru are the major rivers in the district. The major sources of irrigation are tube wells and wells.

The district has a total population of 7.52 lakh and almost 90 per cent of the households have registered for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme.

The document has observed that the district is continuously prone to drought, due to erratic and uneven distribution of rainfall.

It points out that the major crops raised in the district are paddy, maize, cholam, cumbu, cashew, blackgram, greengram and chillies. While sugarcane is the major commercial crop, cashew is the main horticultural crop. The other horticultural crops include mango, guava, amla and jackfruit.

The bank has identified dairy, goat-rearing, piggery and cashew processing as among the prominent economic activities for which there is ample scope in the district. It has suggested diversification to high-yielding varieties and new technologies and wants the farmers to be supported on this score to increase productivity and income levels.

Productivity enhancement, especially in paddy and sugarcane, may be prioritised. System Rice Intensification method in paddy could be promoted by suitable demonstrations. Cultivation of sugarcane with drip irrigation, tie-up arrangements under contract farming and diversification may be encouraged for increasing productivity.

It has stressed the need for timely supply of certified seeds. For this, it has suggested introduction of a “mobile depot” to reach agriculture inputs, even in remote villages, during the cropping season. The NABARD has also mooted involving SHGs in production and distribution of certified seeds with the active involvement of Agriculture Department.

Besides, efforts should be made to propagate integrated farming system. It wants all the crop loans to be released through Kisan Credit Cards and cover all crop loans for notified crops in notified areas under the National Agricultural Insurance Scheme.

Pointing out that that the Agriculture Department has helped SHGs in three blocks in producing bio inputs, the plan wants the process to be replicated in other blocks .

The bank has also suggested that the government take steps to create infrastructure facilities for value addition of agro products.

Besides, it has urged the government to ensure availability of farm implements to the farmers at the time of need, particularly combined harvesters and paddy transplanting machines.

With regard to water sources, the NABARD wants the bankers to encourage community irrigation borewells by water users’ associations, particularly in Thirumanur, T.Palur, Jayankondam, and Andimadam blocks. At the same time, it has suggested extension of credit for installing diesel pumpsets. It wants them to accord priority to financing drip and sprinkler irrigation and “to prepare specific banking plans and finance more for water conserving structures.”

It has suggested that the government could take steps to construct check dams in Maruthayaru river for groundwater recharge and create infrastructure to divert the excess water to lakes and tanks during floods.

As investment for borewell\dugwell is very high and entails risk of failure, the State government may consider evolving insurance scheme\failed well compensation scheme, at least in hard rock areas where failure rate is high. To augment groundwater resources, construction of suitable artificial recharge structures could be undertaken.

Above all, the bank wants the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation to clear backlog in energisation of pumpsets at the earliest.

Ample scope for dairy, goat-rearing, piggery and cashew processing

90 per cent of the households have registered for MNREGS