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Some problems

The micro irrigation technology is yet to become popular in India. It was introduced in the 1980s. But, be now, it could cover only 1.2 million hectares in 12 states. About half of the acreage is in Maharashtra alone. Of course, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana are showing keen interest.

One reason for slow spread is that the initial cost of installation of micro irrigation system is high. The system requires equipment like pipes, tubes, filtration equipment, water emitters and so on. The equipment is also heavily taxed whereas the subsidy was 90 per cent in 1996, it came down to 25 per cent in the Tenth Plan.

Other problems include lack of technical knowledge and trained human resource. The scheme lacks sufficient institutional and credit support.

In the irrigation sector, there is great untapped potential. Micro irrigation can ensure more crop per drop.

Drought Management

Lining of water courses has been recognized as an effective measure to minimize the water losses in the transit and to avoid damage to the crops.

The warabandi system of irrigation aims at ensuring assured, adequate, dependable, timely supply of water in proportion to the land holding to all the beneficiaries in rotation under an outlet, irrespective of location. The system has the district advantage of ensuring equal distribution of water per acre in tune with size of land holding, cropping pattern, crop water requirement, nature of soil, rainfall etc.

The cropping pattern is an important determinant of water use efficiency. We have to select crop varieties and crop rotations in such a way that the available water is fully utilized.

Dryland farming requires action at two levels :

  • • an intensive approach aimed at integrated development of selected micro watershed, and
  • • an extensive approach for breeding water stress tolerant varieties, fertilizer dosage, soil and moisture conservation.

The order to provide adequate tree cover and promote subsidiary occupation, horticulture, afforestation and pasture development form an integral part of dryland farming programme.

In a drought prone area the emphasis should be on.

  • • on farm development in canal and tank covered areas;
  • • conjunctive use of surface and ground water;
  • • crop diversification wherever necessary;
  • • introducing sprinkler system for closely spaced crops in canal and tank command areas;
  • • large scale adoption of drip irrigation especially in well irrigated areas and for wide spaced commercial and high value crops;
  • • farmers managements/participation in irrigation;
  • • reuse of waste waters, both sewage water from municipalities and effluent water from industries, after proper reclamation.

The long term strategy for drought initiation should aim at :

  • • rainwater harvesting drought watershed development and efficient use of available water through micro irrigation systems such as drip and sprinkler irrigation :
  • • development of common property resources for water and fodder such as water ponds and grazing lands along canals and other water sources;
  • • promotion of less water requiring crops and other farm activities including silvipastures, in drought prone areas;
  • • evolution of drought resistant varieties of crops such as legumes (pulses) oilseeds and fodders.

In mitigating drought, village ponds and farm ponds have to play an important role. The village ponds can be used for livestock and to meet daily needs of villagers. Of course the extent of help depends on catchments characteristics, runoff volume and its utilizations. The natural farm ponds are for pre-sowing, protective irrigation an livestock consumptions.

A pilot scheme in the state sector for repair, renovation and restoration of water bodies directly linked to agriculture is proposed to be taken up during the remaining period of the Tenth Plan. The objectives of the scheme are :

  • • to restore and augment storage capacity of water bodies, and
  • • to recover and extend their lost irrigation potential.

As micro irrigation aims at water conservation, it is the most important instrument to bring down the severity of drought.

Drought connotes a situation of water shortage for human, cattle and agriculture consumption resulting in economic losses, primarily in agriculture sector. India, being an agriculture driven nation and farmers majorly relying on monsoon, they stand handicapped if the rains are not on time. Agriculture is determined by the climate. In other words, climate is the key factor in any operation of agricultural production right from field preparation to marketing. The success and failure of farming is closely associated with the prevailing weather conditions. In India, drought essentially occurs due to failure of south-west monsoon (June- September). Although the onset of South-West Monsoon 2009 was in time, the advancement of monsoon delayed in Central and Northern parts of the country resulting in delay in advancement of monsoon to other parts of the country. It was deficient by 39% as on 10th June, 2009, and was -54% as on 24th June, 2009 which has resulted in drought like conditions in some parts of the country.

The declaration of drought was primarily based on the quantum of rainfall, damage to kharif crops and lesser availability of drinking water and less moisture in the soil. Monsoon failure results in crop failure, shortage of drinking water as well as undue hardship to the rural and urban community. Indeed, the Southwest monsoon accounts for about 80 per cent of the country's rainfall in a year. With only about 40 per cent of country's sown area irrigated, the monsoon becomes crucial in determining agricultural output. There is no gainsaying the fact that too much or too little rain can prove disastrous. Monsoon rain generates food and provides labour; and creates cash flow in the market. Bad rain could even result in dipping stock market and falling corporate investment, Further, a great deal of the country's electricity requirement is generated by water power provided by the monsoon rain. A severe drought could reduce gross domestic product (GDP) in a given year by about 2 to 5 per cent. This is why the progress of monsoon - its onset and performance - is followed with such a keen interest in India. The present paper is an attempt to explore the drought conditions that are prevailed in the country and its effect on the proposed economic growth.

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