Agri Business

Maharashtra’s drought-prone areas reap maximum benefits under the centre’s micro-irrigation scheme

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on August 27, 2021

With ₹985 crore central assistance during the last three years, the state had covered 6.55 lakh hectares under the scheme.

Haunted with deficient rainfall and frequent droughts followed by farmer suicide waves, 19 districts in the Marathwada and Vidarbha region of Maharashtra are on the mode to improve on-farm water use efficiency for enhancing crop productivity.

Maharashtra has covered 6.55 lakh hectares under central government’s ambitious micro irrigation scheme - Per Drop More Crop component of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana(PMKSY-PDMC) since 2015-16.

Interestingly, out of 6.55 lakh hectares, about 60 per cent of the area that is over 3.90 lakh hectares, is from 19 districts in the drought-prone regions.

Buldhana district has brought 74,963 hectares under the micro-irrigation as part of the scheme, followed by Jalna (40,885 ha) and Aurangabad ( 34,557 ha). Of the top ten districts that have brought maximum land under micro-irrigation through PMKSY-PDMC, six districts are from Marathwada and Vidarbha regions.

The central government has assisted ₹985 crore to the State in the last three years ( 2018-19 to 2020-21) to execute the scheme.

The study conducted by NITI Aayog to evaluate the PMKSY-PDMC scheme in 2020 stated that the scheme is relevant in achieving national priorities such as substantially improving on-farm water use efficiency, enhancing crop productivity, generating employment opportunities etc. Micro-irrigation adoption has helped to save water and created direct and indirect employment opportunities.

The response by drought-prone districts to micro-irrigation schemes comes against the backdrop of big dams failing to resolve the State’s water crisis. Almost 40 per cent of India’s large dams are in Maharashtra but has just 19 per cent of the net irrigated area.

Activist Vikas Kamble with over two decades of experience working with small and marginal farmers in Marathwada, said water scarcity remains a major problem. “Micro-irrigation will help to lessen farmer distress and also reduce the number of suicides,” he said.

The central government’s study titled “Farmers Suicide in India: Causes and Policy Prescription” in 2016-17 suggested a need to bring individual farmers under the ambit of crop insurance and insisted that judicious use of available water is required.

Published on August 26, 2021

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