In order to fight the drought prone areas in India, central government is planning to bring 2 Crore hectares of land under irrigation through various government sponsored schemes including Rs. 80,000 Crore Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Program, according to Union Minister Nitin Gadkari.
Citing severe water crisis in 11 states as the main cause behind farmer’s plight, irrigation schemes needed to be fast tracked to relief the farmers, Mr. Gadkari said during a workshop organized on the theme ‘Liberating the Farmers from Death Trap”.
Another provision of Rs.20,000 Crore has been made under the Pradhan Mantri Sinchai Yojana. Among 89 projects sanctioned under the various schemes, 28 were included in the AIBP, the minister said admitting that farmers’ suicide was a sorry state of affairs, he said the government is committed to address this problem and bring more cultivable areas under irrigation.
Presently, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Odisha are facing irrigation problem. Punjab tops among the Indian states in irrigation with 96% irrigated land and Jharkhand is the least with only 5.6%.
Citing the example of Rajasthan cultivating cash crop of olive successfully, he stressed the need of encouraging farmers to choose for cash crops. This will also help India to become self dependent on edible oils and which could save Rs.1.3 Lakh Crore per year. He also emphasized the need for cross breeding of certain varieties of cows like Sahiwal and Gir which were successful in enchancing milk production in Brazil.
Farmers can also opt for sericulture and second generation ethanol production was also encouraged besides bamboo production and fisheries. There is a need for diversification of agriculture and ethanol could reduce India’s import of crude oil which is now Rs. 8 Lakh Crore.