Drip irrigation must for water-guzzling sugarcane in Maharashtra | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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Drip irrigation must for water-guzzling sugarcane in Maharashtra

Mumbai city news: Drip irrigation is expected to increase production of sugarcane even as it conserves water

mumbai Updated: Jul 19, 2017 00:31 IST
Surendra P Gangan
Maharashtra is the largest sugar producing state in the country, with farmers relying on this cash crop to bring in assured dividends.
Maharashtra is the largest sugar producing state in the country, with farmers relying on this cash crop to bring in assured dividends.

In a bid to tackle the ongoing agrarian discontent, the state cabinet took major decisions on Tuesday, including giving its nod to proposals minimising the cost of production, raising productivity and ensuring fair procurement prices for agriculture produce.

The cabinet cleared a decision to make drip irrigation mandatory for the water-guzzling sugarcane crop after 2019 and promote group farming by offering a subsidy to participating farmers.

Maharashtra is the largest sugar producing state in the country, with farmers relying on this cash crop to bring in assured dividends. Drip irrigation is expected to increase production of sugarcane even as it conserves water.

The state government has chalked a scheme with the investment of Rs200 crore to promote group farming. The government will extend the subsidy of Rs1 crore each to the farmer producer company formed under Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act, 1960, by at least 20 farmers with the cluster of a minimum land of 100 acres. The government has kept the target of funding about 200 such companies. The state cabinet in its decision taken on Tuesday also decided to promote animal husbandry, fisheries and sericulture to make the group farming viable. The state government has made a budgetary allocation of Rs45 crore for immediate release of the funds for the companies.

“By encouraging the group farming we are aiming to maximise the use of mechanisation by providing them ample funding for modern machinery and equipment. This will help them maximise productivity and reduce the cost of production. Once productivity is increased, the farmers can get a higher rate for their produce. We will also help the companies set up food processing units, enable them to export the products and set up mechanism for effective marketing,” said agriculture minister Pandurang Fundkar.

The decision was taken in the backdrop of the decline in the land holding per household to 1.44 hectares in 2010-11 from 4.28 hectares in 1970-71.

The state government has announced it will make it compulsory to shift the sugarcane on drip irrigation after 2019 by launching an interest subvention scheme. The government aims to bring 3.05 lakh hectare sugarcane crop under drip irrigation in next two years in addition to the current cover of 2.25 lakh hectares. Maharashtra farmers grow sugarcane crop on 9.42 lakh hectares across the state. The government will assist the conversion with the loan of Rs 85,400 a hectare at the interest of 2% to be borne by the farmers. The remaining part of the interest rate (7.25%) will be borne by state government (4%) and sugar factories (1.25%) for the loan with the tenure of 5 years. The total estimated loan to be disbursed in two years for the scheme is Rs 2,604 crore.

The state government had made it compulsory in June 2015 for sugar factories in the catchment areas of eight dams (including Tembhu, Mujla, Bhima, Kanholi Nala) to switch to drip irrigation from flood irrigation till June 2019. Based on the success of the directives, the government has decided to make it mandatory for all the sugar factories to implement the drip irrigation for sugarcane crop after June 2019.

“It will be the responsibility of the sugar factories to switch to the drip irrigation. The interest subvention scheme not only enable the farmers to swtich to drip will also help them in raising production per hectare,” Fundkar said.

The minister said the new scheme will replace the existing subsidy scheme which cost government about Rs350 crore a year.