With more than 7,000 villages declared as drought hit, the state agriculture department has initiated a dryland farming mission, which got Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan’s nod last week.
Areas that get less than 750mm of rain for less than 75 days in a year with a 20% land-water absorption rate are termed dryland. Most of the villages that have been declared drought-hit would fall in this category.
The mission will look at solutions to increase the water table, help farmers change crop patterns and do scientific seeding using less water as per their land quality and rain.
“The idea behind the mission is to reduce the dependency on rains and increase the areas under drip irrigation,” agriculture minister Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said.
“We have appointed a group of experts who will look at the cropping patterns, water management, farmer subsidies, training and educating farmers and new irrigation technologies to be adopted as per the quality of land,” he added.
A committee headed by Vikhe-Patil will keep a close eye on the mission and will act on the reports it gets from the experts.
An official said 1,000 hectares of land in each affected district will first be dedicated for this project.
“Farmers will be made to break the traditional cropping patterns. The soil and the water table of each district will be studied and crops allotted accordingly,” an official from the agriculture department explained. “It’s important to understand that climate has changed and there is no point growing water-intensive crops in dry areas,” he added.
The department plans to hold workshops to educate farmers and to inform them about the scheme.