Israeli technology to boost hill agriculture, curb migration in Uttarakhand
With an aim to check forced migration from the hills by enhancing farmers’ income, Uttarakhand will soon borrow from Israel its sophisticated drip irrigation and sprinkler system to boost the crop production in the state’s 92% rain-fed areas.
“Farm yield in most (92%) of our hilly areas is very low as they are rain-fed. We will soon borrow the drip and sprinkler system from Israel and introduce it in the state to boost the crop production in those areas,” agriculture minister Subodh Uniyal said.
“The enhanced productivity will boost the marginal farmers’ income helping us to check forced migration from the hills,” he said in an interview with Hindustan Times on Sunday.
Uniyal, who returned from a six-day trip to Israel on Saturday, said experts from that country will soon visit the state to discuss the modalities of setting up the drip irrigation and sprinkler system.
The minister along with a delegation of chief ministers of different states and officials led by Union minister of state for agriculture Parshottam Rupala were on a tour of Israel to study “its sophisticated cooperatives based farming system”.
Uniyal said the state government might also make use of Israel’s highly sophisticated satellite-based crop insurance scheme.
“Under that system, drones fitted with high resolution cameras present an exact picture of damages of both horticultural and agricultural crops owing to natural disasters or outbreaks of diseases,” he said.
“The state-of-art system helps suitably compensate farmers for crop damages through the crop insurance scheme.”
Besides, a centre of excellence based on the model of Israel’s sophisticated cooperatives based farming could also be set up in the state, Uniyal said.
According to him, this unique model of the integrated farming system would have all the sophisticated equipment needed for farming as well as the activities relating to the allied sectors such as dairy farming, bee keeping and fisheries etc.
“If everything goes well, a centre of excellence each complete with sophisticated equipment required for animal husbandry, goat keeping, bee keeping and fisheries etc will also be set up in the state,” Uniyal said.
“Such centres of excellence which will be inspired by the farming system practised in Israel will help motivate farmers to use those sophisticated equipment and techniques in setting up apple orchards or other fruit orchards.”
The system of dairy farming in Israel, he said, is so hi-tech that one dairy unit generates 43,000 liters of milk a day.
“Similarly, one dairy farm having 1,000 milch cattle there, can easily be managed by a group of five individuals.”
Referring to the drip irrigation and sprinkler system to be borrowed from Israel, he said the hi-tech mechanism will be introduced at a village each in all the 95 blocks in the mountain state.
“The system will be introduced in those areas as part of the recently introduced Integrated Model Agriculture Village scheme,” Uniyal said.
According to him, the sophisticated system of irrigation that irrigates only the roots of plants helps save the volumes of water that goes waste in the traditional system of irrigation.
“Which is why we plan to introduce the drip irrigation and sprinkler system in villages facing the acute water scarcity,” the minister said, adding that the hi-tech mechanism will also help conserve the fast dwindling ground water table in the hill state.
For the system to function properly there “will be enough water which will be stored through rain water harvesting and by conserving natural springs.”
Uniyal said the drip irrigation and sprinkler system would be particularly beneficial for the wheat crop, millets and pulses.
“As in Israel the entire system will be solar powered,” he said. “Initially, the government will not introduce the computerised drip irrigation and sprinkler system because it is very costly.”