If you visited the Hunagund taluk of Bagalkot in Karnataka a couple of years ago, you would have never imagined that this severely drought-stricken region could one day resuscitate its soil’s fertility to grow crops.
Once a part of the famed Vijayanagara district, Hunagund’s story was quite different in the recent past.
Under a state government initiated project in 2009, over 59,000 acres (24,000 hectares) of barren fields have been transformed into stretches of green, productive pastures.
However, the success behind the Ramthal Drip Irrigation Project has been the collaborative effort of the previous BJP government and current Congress government for over a period of eight long years.
Taking a cue from Israeli agricultural practices, the project has benefitted over 15,000 farmers.
Engineers and agronomists from Netafim India Private Ltd., Jain Irrigation and Krishna Bhagya Jal Nigam Limited (KBJNL) guide the farmers, helping them implement various irrigation methods.
The farmers who had so far only been cultivating maize and jowar have now started to grow vegetables, other grains, and even cash crops like sunflower and cotton. In October, it will see the first harvest of the khariff (monsoon)crop in several years.
“The project area is divided into two parts–west and east side of the NH 13 that cuts through the project area. A total of 28,911 acres (11,700 hectare) in the west is networked with drip irrigation facility,” Umesha MC, who is an agronomist with Netafim told TOI.
She further explained that the water for the project is channelled from Narayanapura dam and pumped at two stages to reach the site, following which it undergoes impurity filtration at 23 primary filter stations.
Each of these stations is managed by a cooperative unit of farmers, who receive information through RadioNet wireless transmitters with terminal units fixed at farmers’ fields.
The best part is that the farmers are alerted about details like water availability timings through SMSs.
“Even when the farmers are not present, water is supplied to plants at the right time,” said Vasanth Ulli, who is an assistant executive engineer of KBJNL.
The interesting aspect of the project is the dedicated effort that both the governments have displayed during their respective periods of governance, setting aside all of their political differences for the greater good.
While the preceding BJP government worked on the project from its conception in 2009 all the way till 2012, the current Congress government had transformed the blueprints of the project into a functional reality.