Sugarcane has always received a lot of criticism for it being one of the most water intensive crops requiring nearly 25,000 tmc water for one hectare and acts a slap to the various drought affected areas in the country. Among the major producers of it, are the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh. Sugarcane cultivation in both Maharashtra and Karnataka is largely rain-fed, unlike Uttar Pradesh where it is irrigated. And the state government of Maharashtra in its initiative to help the sugarcane farmers and measure of water conservation has made drip irrigation compulsory which covers 4% of cropped area and uses 70% of water used for irrigation.
According to the scheme approved by the state cabinet, the state government will give a loan to farmers of up to Rs 85,400 per hectare at subsidized interest rates of 2%. The state government aims to bring nearly 3.05 lakh hectares of land of the 9.42 lakh hectare under sugarcane cultivation under this scheme in the next two years. There are 2.25 lakh hectares which are already under drip irrigation. NABARD has been also asked to have dedicated micro irrigation fund and long term loans will be provided from that fund. The original interest rate for these loans will be at 7.25 % of which 4% will be borne by the state government, 1.25% will have to be borne by the sugar cooperative which buys the sugarcane from the farmer and the remaining 2% will be borne by the farmers themselves.
By Drip irrigation the govt. is aiming to save 7500-12500 tmc of water per hectare by shifting 50% of sugarcane farming on it in the next two years. This step by the state government is a credible and laudable one and supports the various water management and sustainable development goals of the country and also condolences the drought hit areas.