Yavatmal district in the Vidharbha region of Maharashtra has been suffering from a terrible fate for a few years. The area has been drought-stricken, causing many farmers to take their lives.
What could a lone farmer do when the rain Gods decide to give their villages a miss for years?
Even when it did rain in Yavatmal, intensive deforestation and soil erosion caused the water to slide off the hills, not giving the farmers an opportunity to store it for a rainy day (sense the paradox?).
Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister, Maharashtra, told said, “The area under Rabi and summer crops shrunk sharply due to mere 66 percent of the average rainfall during the Kharif season in 2017.”
The district with primary occupation of agriculture found itself in a tough position until recently. According to media reports, an innovative form of irrigation was introduced.
6,000 ‘Farm Pools’ were built under the ‘farm pool on demand’ scheme that started in February 2016.
Under this scheme, a pit is dug up at regular distances that can store and harvest rainwater for future use. This ‘protected irrigation’ restricts rainwater from flowing away to be used on dry days. It will increase the groundwater levels too.
How did the Yavatmal farmers get the farm pools and how will the farmers benefit from them?
Rajesh Deshmukh, Collector, Yavatmal, told the publication that about 10,518 farmers had applied for this scheme online, out of whom 8,355 applications were found to be technically eligible. “Out of these, the construction of around 6,200 farm pools has been completed in about six months,” he added.
These farm pools will result in 6,000 hectares of land protected under the irrigation method.
Although the authorities saw resistance from contractors initially, farmers assured them that they would pay for the pools as soon as the government transferred the required amount in their bank accounts set the wheels turning. Madan Yerawar, Minister of State for Tourism, said, “We guaranteed that farmers will pay the bills to machine-holders after the money gets credited to their accounts. Hence, contractors also agreed to get involved in the work.”
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The farmers who have applied for the farm pools would be preferred for silk farming, Deshmukh said that they would also be given benefits of diesel engines and electric pumps that they would require for it. According to Deshmukh, they will also be provided with drip irrigation systems to take benefit of the farm pools under the Prime Minister’s Agricultural Irrigation Scheme.
The farm pools promise a year of better irrigation and consequently, better crops for the farmers of Yavatmal. With 6,200 pools being dug up before the monsoon, let’s hope that the rainy season is generous this year, helping farmers cultivate crops to their optimum capacity.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)