CHENNAI: Even as farmers of the delta region, hub of food production in Tamil Nadu, have begun to make an outcry over shortage of water for saving the standing crops, water harvesting structures raised under a project to promote agriculture in dry land have turned a boon for farmers in torrid regions to reap rich harvests. Under the Mission for Sustainable Dry Land Agriculture (MSDA), as many as 311 water harvesting structures have been constructed across 25 districts, where the project is being implemented,
“As part of the entry point activities, a component of MSDA, a total of 311 water harvesting structures have been constructed at 200 clusters covering 25 districts. Water stored in these structures help the farmers irrigate the crops without any problems, besides contributing to recharging the groundwater table,” V Dakshinamoorthy, Director of Agriculture, said. A sum of `10 crore was spent on establishing the water structures that included 210 check-dams, 14 village ponds, 32 community ponds and deepening of ‘ooranies’ at 55 places.
Farmers in several places including Villupuram, Tiruvannamalai, Vellore, Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Madurai and western districts have raised millets, pulses and oil seeds under the MSDA and find no hassle for water irrigation as the water harvesting structures serve like springs. “These water harvesting structures serve as very good micro-catchment areas for rainwater in the dry land clusters where food production is being undertaken under the MSDA,” another official of the Agriculture department noted. Swaths of barren land have been converted into the arable through the innovative measures initiated under the dry land agriculture project. The official said several farmers successfully grew millets and pulses in places such as Marakkanam and Gingee blocs on that have been lying idle.