Data Focus

Sikkim, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra lead is usage of drip irrigation

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on March 15, 2021

27 States have less than 30% of their farmland watered by micro-irrigation

Up to 60 per cent of water used for sugarcane, banana, okra, papaya, bittergourd and few other crops could be saved if a drip irrigation system is employed for cultivation. But only four States — Sikkim, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra — have more than half of the net cultivated farmlands under micro-irrigation. 27 States (including UTs) in India have less than 30 per cent micro-irrigation system out of which 23 have less than 15 per cent micro-irrigation.

Net irrigated area

The data provided by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare to the Lok Sabha last month show that the net irrigated area in the country is 68,649 thousand ha. The agriculture land covered under micro-irrigation is 12,908.44 thousand ha in which drip irrigation is 6,112.05 thousand ha and sprinkler irrigation is 6,796.39 thousand ha. This means that out of total irrigated land in the country only 19 per cent is under micro-irrigation. These figures are from 2005-06 to 2020-21(as on February 3, 2021).

Interestingly Uttar Pradesh, the largest sugarcane grower, has only 1.5 per cent while Punjab, the major wheat grower, has 1.2 per cent land under micro-irrigation. Bihar and West Bengal are among the States that have less than 5 per cent micro irrigated land.

Water situation

The figures are a cause for concern against the backdrop of a report of a committee appointed to look into the restructuring of the Central Water Commission and the Central Ground Water Board, paining a grave picture of India’s water situation. The report says that many of the peninsular rivers are facing a serious crisis of post-monsoon flows. “If the current pattern of demand continues, about half of the demand for water will be unmet by 2030 . Water tables are falling in most parts of India and there is fluoride, arsenic, mercury, even uranium in our groundwater. We have focused only on the expenditure of vast sums of money for the construction of dams and main canal systems, not on enduring outcomes. Average cost over-run is as high as 1382 per cent in major irrigation projects and 325 per cent in medium projects,” the report said.


Impact evaluation

An impact evaluation study of micro-irrigation scheme carried out by the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare found that irrigation cost is reduced by 20-50 per cent with an average of 32.3 per cent in micro-irrigation schemes. Electricity consumption is reduced by about 31 per cent and the saving of fertilizers is in the range of 7 to 42 per cent.

Most importantly, the overall income enhancement of farmers is in the range of 20-68 per cent with an average of 48.5 per cent.

However, the government data show that very few States have shown enthusiasm to execute micro irrigation systems to save water and add to the farmers’ income.

Published on March 15, 2021

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