Policy makers and
promoters of water saving technologies have significant lessons to learn from the Maikaal
experience. In recent years, IDE-India has recognised the success of grassroots
innovations and has come up with its own version of the Pepsee, aptly named Easy Drip.
More can be done to make drip accessible to poor farmers and promote them on a mass scale.
According to Shilp Verma of the
International Water Management Institute (IWMI-TATA), water-saving technologies should be
viewed as recurring costs with lower input rather than capital investments that offer
returns after a period. It is also necessary to transfer the technology into the hands of
the users. Farmers are demanding components of drip that they then can then assemble on
The way ahead
Indias policy makers must understand that irrigation is not merely a routine task of
watering crops. In India, as in all developing countries, it is a social activity with a
strong human element. The success of any irrigation practice depends on whether it has
been able to involve and motivate the people engaged in the activity. The government has
turned a blind eye to this fact. Like in every other area, it expects the local community
to fall in line, and obey instructions handed to them from the top. In the process, it has
failed to capitalise on the creative ingenuity of Indias farmers.
This approach has to change. The first
step is scaling up investment in researchnot only to improve the technology, but to
identify the modifications required to make it suitable to local conditions. The most
effective way of doing this is to provide incentiveseconomic, social and
administrativeto local innovators. Also, they must be properly informed, not merely
trained to operate the system. They must grasp the fundamental principles of drip.
The second step is to take into account
the fact that irrigation units in India are extremely variable in size. Present government
initiatives are loaded in favour of large-scale farmerswho according official
estimates, comprise a little more than 25 per cent of the farming population! The
significance of drip is that it has the potential to meet the needs of not only farmers in
water scarce areas, but also of the poor. It helps create a new means of income.
Finally, spreading the use of drip among
poor farmers should start with a feasibility study in the regions of interest. This would
determine whether the conditions necessary for success, such as appropriate plot sizes,
farmer income, availability of water and market access exist. In other words, know the
ground realities before installing the system.
The message, therefore, is loud and
clear. Irrigation water is a major force in Indias economic growth. Communities must
play a key role to make this resource sustainable.
|Find out more
Mahindra Dadasahib Patil PO Nimni, Tasgaon taluka,
(Uses drip in sugarcane, also a local dealer of Jain Drip Systems)
Manerajauri, Tasgaon Taluka, Maharashtra,
(Grape farmer using drip on 11acres)
CEO, Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP),
Choice Premises, Swastik Crossroads
Navrangpura, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
(079) 6427729/ 7205/ 7029
(AKRSP has been promoting low-cost drip amongst poor farmers in Saurashtra)
International Water Management Institute (IWMI)
Elecon Complex, Anand-Sojitra Road, Vallabh Vidyanagar 388120
Gujarat, Ph: (0269) 222 9310 to 13
(IWMI has a water management programme in north Gujarat
which also promotes low-cost drip and field trials of use of drip in alfalfa fields)
Madhu Kapadia, Coordinator,
Maulik Bhatt, Engineer,
Field Station IWMI,
20, Karmachari Nagar, Hanuman Tekri, Egola Road, Palanpur, Gujarat.
International Development Enterprises (India) (IDE)
C5-43 Safdarjung Development Area , First Floor, New Delhi 110016,
(011) 696 9812 /13
303, 3rd Floor, New York Plaza,
Premchand Nagar Road,
Bodakdere, Ahmedabad 380015, Gujarat.
(079) 687 3461 /81
IDE Baroda, C-24 Part I,
Narmada Nagari Tenement,
Opposite ITI College,
Gorwa, Baroda 390023, Gujarat
Netafim Irrigation India Pvt. Ltd.
Plot Nos 268-270 GIDC,
Vill Manjusar, Dist Sarli,
Baroda 391775, Gujarat.
Samaj Parivartan Kendra (SPK),
Ozar, Nasik, Maharashtra.