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Micro Irrigation in India: Present scenario, Types, Government Initiatives & Challenges.

Sugandh Bhatnagar
Sugandh Bhatnagar
Irrigation
Irrigation

Micro irrigation is the modern method of irrigation which helps to save water and increases the water use efficiency. It makes use of drippers, sprinklers and foggers. Micro irrigation can increase yields and decrease water, fertilizers and labour requirements. It can also help to bring the degraded, uncultivable land under cultivation.

Present scenario of Micro Irrigation in India

We can take inspiration from Israel, a desert nation that has become a water surplus nation because it adopted micro irrigation techniques, especially Drip irrigation. It can save up to 3/4th of water that is used for irrigation.

The average penetration of micro irrigation in India is 19% (as on February 3, 2021), which is much lesser than many countries.

Up to 60% of water used for sugarcane, banana, okra, papaya, bitter-gourd and few other crops could be saved if drip irrigation system is employed for cultivation. Currently only Sikkim, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra have more than half of their net cultivable area under micro irrigation whereas 27 states in India have less than 30% micro irrigation system out of which 23 have less than 15%.

Uttar Pradesh is the largest producer of Sugarcane, which is water intensive crop but has only 1.5% area under micro irrigation and Punjab has only 1.2 %.

In September 2020, Agriculture minister Mr. Narendra Singh Tomar said that the government has set the target of covering 100 lakh ha land in the next five years under micro irrigation.

Types Of Micro Irrigation

There are majorly 5 types of Micro Irrigation Systems

  • Sprinkler Irrigation- It works in a pressurized form similar to natural rainfall. Devices used in this irrigation include high pressure sprinklers sprays or guns.

  • Drip Irrigation – In this the water is directly supplied to plant roots through emitters

  • Spray Irrigation – It utilizes the jet spray to deliver water and it is widely used.

  • Subsurface Irrigation – In this method the water is applied to the plants from below the soil surface. The tubes and pipes are hidden below the soil for water delivery.

  • Bubbler Irrigation- It is installed in areas where water requirement is high. Water is applied through small streams and fountains.

Governments initiatives for micro irrigation

The government of India initiated micro irrigation in 1992 and recognized this as a thurst area in 2006. Later National Mission On Micro Irrigation (NMMI) and National Mission for sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) were launched with a clear mission to promote Micro irrigation systems.

Out of total 140.13 million hectares of sown area, the net irrigated area is 68.38 milion hectares while 71.74 million hectares are unirrigated. The government launched PMKSY (Pradhan Mantri Kisan Sinchai Yojana) to solve this problem. This scheme was launched in July, 2015, and is aimed at water conservation and increasing water use efficiency. It has a tagline “har khet ko pani” meaning assured irrigation to every farm. Under this scheme small farmers will be paid 55% subsidy to install micro irrigation systems.

The Gujarat Government and Gujarat Green Revolution Company Ltd, is a public private partnership model for the implementation of micro irrigation. Many such initiatives are being run by various state governments.

Challenges for Adopting Micro Irrigation

  • Inadequate water availability at farm level.

  • Non availability of uninterrupted electric power.

  • Inadequate focus on nationwide micro irrigation technology.

  • It has high cost of installation and maintenance, plus complicated procedures to redeem subsidies provided by the government for installation of Micro Irrigation.

Conclusion

The importance of micro-irrigation to achieve sustainability in Indian agriculture is quite evident and cannot be neglected. But it’s a long way ahead and requires extensive demonstrations, training and awareness programmes to bring Indian farming community abreast with micro-irrigation practices.

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