The water scarcity faced by 15 districts in the state this year, leading to crop failures, has made the government rethink about the way farming is carried out in these areas.
The state agriculture department has decided to initiate a ‘dryland farming mission’, where a group of experts will study cropping patterns, water management, farmer subsidies, training and educating farmers, and suggest new irrigation technologies to be adopted according to the quality of the land in these districts.
“Right now there seems to be a huge disconnect between farmers and government initiatives in drought areas. There is a need to add value to their needs and get all the schemes under one umbrella. Currently we apply the same agricultural rules to Sindhudurg and to Wardha, which are poles apart,” said agriculture minister Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil, who is the chairman of the committee formed to chart out this mission.
A Rs 25,000 crore mission proposal is ready, consisting of issues related to capacity building and water management, which will be put to the cabinet for approval, Vikhe-Patil said.
“The proposal consists of solutions to increase the water table, improve water supply, help farmers change cropping patterns and seed scientifically as per their land quality and rain. This will encourage dependency on less rain-dependent crops, increase areas under drip irrigation and give farmers subsidies, which will add value to the issues that farmers in these regions face,” Vikhe Patil added.
He conceded that it would not be easy to convince farmers to break patterns they have been following for generations. “We will need to have several education camps and pilot projects to convince them,” he said.