PUDUCHERRY: As an incentive to farmers who cultivate crops using water conservation techniques, Puducherry Minister of Agriculture and Power R Kamalakannan said the government is mooting the idea of extending free power supply to such farmers as the ministry was concerned about depleting groundwater levels.
The minister said a policy decision in this regard will be taken by the government in consultation with the Chief Minister.
Speaking at the Three Tier Training programme ,‘Aquifer Management through Participatory Approach and Local Groundwater issues’, organised by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), South Eastern Coastal Region, Chennai, and Rajiv Gandhi National Ground Water Training and Research Institute, Raipur, on Thursday, he said only those farmers who adopt water-conservation schemes and technologies such as precision farming, system of rice intensification (SRI), drip irrigation and cultivate crops with minimal water would be given cent per cent power subsidy, while the remaining farmers will receive only 50 per cent subsidy.
Though techniques such as precision farming and SRI have been introduced, they are not widely adopted. With farm labourers not trained, precision farming was abandoned by over 50 per cent of farmers.
Kamalakannan himself pleaded guilty on that count and said the benefits of the schemes will be adopted only when those at the ground level have been trained properly. Not only agriculturists, but also agricultural labourers should be trained to use modern technologies and this should be assessed periodically.
Kamalakannan said farmers and those engaged in water management will have to adopt new technologies because of issues such as increasing population, overdrawing groundwater, intrusion of saline water and water-pollution. The CGWB is taking steps to enhance water resources, he said adding that a map of the underground water resources would be beneficial to those in water management.
Kamalakannan said the main crops in Puducherry are paddy and sugar cane, both of which are water intensive crops.
He said five lakh litres of water are required for cultivating one acre of paddy. Similarly, 12 lakh litres of water are required for cultivating one acre of sugarcane, he said. So it is essential that farmers should switch over to precision farming.
There were 40,000 hectares of agricultural land 15 years ago, which had shrunk to 10,000 hectares because of the conversion of fertile land into housing plots. Encroachments have also brought down othe acreage of agri land, the minister said.