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Embracing drip irrigation

Embracing drip irrigation has taught us the importance of conserving both soil and water, said Devji Ratna Vora, a farmer in Gada village, Bhuj. Devji was nominated by the village watershed committee in the gram sabha of the Gada gram panchayat to implement the pilot drip irrigation model in one hectare of his land as part of the Integrated Watershed Development Programme (IWMP).

Farmers in Gada village, those who were part of the Village watershed committee refused to accept drip irrigation as a viable model and doubted its capabilities of benefitting them.

Toeing the line of the farmers, Devji too was a reluctant man as he was unsure of the results that drip irrigation could help him achieve. “None of our farmers in the village were used to implementing drip irrigation. So there were doubts. Though we have heard about it, the practical advantages and disadvantages were not in our notice. There was always doubts that what if our seeds get harmed, so on and so forth,” he said.

But that is where the village watershed committee decided to back Devji and bear the consequences if the adopted practise of drip irrigation did not work to Devji’s advantage. “The committee encouraged me to go in for this and said whatever the consequences they were right behind me. After having got their support and confidence, I decided to take the next step in planning and implementing drip irrigation,” he said.

After which, with intensive participatory planning of the village watershed committee, and the project level watershed team, Devji was nominated as a beneficiary to the pilot drip irrigation model in his agricultural field.

Devji said that with the advent of drip irrigation many valuable lessons have come his way. “Earlier when we used to irrigate, massive water used to be wasted resulting in minimal productivity. With drip irrigation, productivity has increased and the requirement of water to irrigate has also drastically reduced,” he said.

Results were visible for Devji to take note of, as he began to take stock of the increase in productivity soon after embracing drip irrigation. “I noticed that flood irrigation resulted in 70% productivity whereas drip irrigation resulted in 130% productivity. So there was an automatic increase of close to 60%,” he said.

There were other notable advantages as well which Devji noticed with the implementation of drip irrigation. “With this field levelling is not necessary. Most importantly fertilizer and nutrient loss is quite minimized,” he said.

Another direct impact which Devji mentioned was that there was always the danger of soil getting eroded with flood irrigation, but with drip irrigation soil erosion has been completely minimized as water distribution in the agricultural farm land is quite uniform. “Crops are not being destroyed because we can always regulate the supply of water through drip”, he said.

Saving money to irrigate has also come as a relief for Devji. “I use less water to irrigate as a result of having drip irrigation installed. If I were on a well then that would add to my increasing pumping costs. It is all dependent on the irrigation controller. Because of this maintenance costs have also dropped,” he said.

Drip irrigation is also an extremely versatile watering system which can easily be installed on hillsides or flat terrains. In essence it is the perfect irrigation method for oddly shaped landscapes and windy areas.

After having noticed Devji’s successful implementation of drip irrigation, many farmers in Gada village are following suit. “Now that they have noticed that as a pilot it has turned out to be successful, many farmers are taking to this form of irrigation for better productivity and with a purpose to conserve water,” said Devji.

Devji embracing drip irrigation is an example of how IWMP has succeeded in working towards its priorities of need-based watershed planning with the active participation of the entire village watershed committee in Gada.

This article features in the book ‘Good Governance: People’s Voice’ published by the Commissionerate of Information, Government of Gujarat.

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