31 March 2008

Agriculture and Water, Tiruvannamalai

Really interesting information about a new rice cultivation method (SRI) being tested in selected Districts in Tamil Nadu (including Tiruvannanamali District). However instead of trying to be more successful with intensive farming, I think what needs to be considered is crop suitability for water stressed areas. In this respect Tamil Nadu depending on the severity of the summer, often suffers from scarity of water supply. To read more about the water problem in Tamil Nadu go to this previous posting and to an indepth article entitled ‘Tamil Nadu Will Face Crisis, Warn Experts’ at this link.


System Rice Intensification
Farmers are beginning to reap benefits of System Rice Intensification (SRI), a rice cultivation method that requires less nursery area, water and labour and fewer seeds and tests show that the yield is more than with conventional systems.

Alternate wetting and drying of fields, use of rolling markers and mechanical weeders and transplanting seedlings less than 15 days old are some of the characteristics of SRI. Currently farmers using the paddy variety BPT5204, achieve a yield of 7.6 tonnes per hectare using compared to 5.6 tonnes per hectare through conventional methods.
Current test areas covered by the Irrigated Agriculture Modernisation and Water Bodies Restoration and Management Project include Mathur Thirukkai near Gingee in Tiruvannamalai District.

About 1,250 hectares (one hectare = 2.27 acres) have been marked out as SRI demonstration area which motivated farmers to adopt SRI for a total of 2,595 hectares, for which there is no financial support. The Government is providing a subsidy of Rs.10,000 a hectare for the demonstration area to raise paddy and pulses. The administration plans to follow the success of rice tests by following the broad principles of SRI for cultivating pulses and oilseeds.

Further local government seeks to bring the roles of agriculture, agricultural engineering, horticulture, fisheries and animal husbandry departments under the Water Resources Organisation of the Public Works Department. TNAU’s Water Technology Centre is the nodal agency for dissemination and implementation of better farm technologies.

The six-year project, estimated to cost Rs.2,547 crore, covers 63 sub-basins. Of the total cost, Rs.1,500 crore is meant for the Water Resources Organisation to improve irrigation infrastructure and revive 5,760 tanks, and Rs.300 crore for enhancing agricultural productivity through better seeds, production technology and high-value crops and providing marketing support.

The Agricultural Engineering Department has been charged with increasing farm water use efficiency, and Rs.350 crore has been allocated for this purpose.

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