The Farm Distress Mission welcomes Mah. Govt. decision to make Drip Irrigation compulsory for Sugarcane Cultivation
Dated -20th July 2017
Noted farm activist Kishor Tiwari today welcomed decision of the Mah. government to make drip irrigation compulsory for sugarcane cultivation which is the water guzzling crop on a large scale even during the drought years.
The Farm Distress Mission, which Tiwari heads, has said it in recommendations which were submitted to the Chief Minister a year ago asking the Maharashtra government to replace "killer crops" like sugarcane and Bt Cotton in the 14 districts of drought- hit Vidharbha and Marathwada regions in the state.
Sugarcane is 18-month cash crop, it required nearly 25,000 tmc water for one hectare of the crop and if drip irrigation is introduced the state government aims at saving nearly 7500-12500 tmc of water per hectare, said officials from the state agriculture department.
According to the scheme approved by the state cabinet on Tuesday, the state government will give a loan to farmers of up to Rs 85,400 per hectare at subsidized interest rates of 2%. The state government aims to bring nearly 3.05 lakh hectares of land of the 9.42 lakh hectare under sugarcane cultivation under this scheme in the next two years. There are 2.25 lakh hectares which are already under drip irrigation.
Terming sugarcane and Bt Cotton as "killer crops", he said instead "food crops" like oil seeds, pulses, maize and sorghum should be encouraged with incentives and support price protection.
Stringent conditions should be imposed to curb the cultivation of rain-sensitive cash-crops like sugarcane and Bt Cotton which have over-exploited the water in the parched areas of the state and led to a man-made drought, he said.
"At a time when farmer suicides is a burning issue, Vidharbha and Marathwada regions are facing a drought and also need drinking water," he said. Cultivation of water-hungry cash-crops like sugarcane and Bt Cotton exacerbated the agrarian crisis, he said .He also urged the central Government to provide additional Rs 40,000 crore for fresh crop credit.Farm credit, crop pattern and cultivation practices are the core issues of agrarian crisis, he said.
"At present only 35 per cent of the debt-trapped farmers out of the four million distressed farmers in the 14 districts are getting fresh loans. Hence the panel has recommended to the Government to provide additional farm credit of Rs 40,000 crore to the distressed farmers," he said.
Soil health card and soil moisture management is playing a key role in reducing cultivation cost by half, but the killer crops like sugarcane and Bt. Cotton are fueling the present agrarian crisis, he said.