Despite claiming huge initial success in micro-irrigation (MI) system, latest Planning Commission study, “Evaluation Study on Integrated Scheme of Micro Irrigation” (January 2014) has suggested that Gujarat has begun to falter. The study reports that, potentially, Gujarat has a considerably high proportion of land which could be brought under MI — it is 31 per cent of net area under cultivation, or 3,278,000 hectares (ha) out of 10,680,000 ha. However, of the potential area identified, which could be brought under cultivation, only 9.3 per cent (or 306,000 ha) has been actually been brought under MI. This is against the average of 13 per cent of the total potential area brought under micro-irrigation in 10 sample states taken up for study – Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Chhattigarh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.
The study says, “Out of the 10 sample states, the micro irrigation systems, drip and sprinkler combined, the Andhra Pradesh emerged as being the most popular (50.5 per cent) and Punjab as the least popular (0.7 per cent per cent).” It adds, “When examined separately, Andhra Pradesh still came out to be the top ranker in terms of the extent of adoption of both drip and sprinkler systems. As against this, the states of Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Odisha and Rajasthan figured at the bottom for drip exhibiting a range of only 1.5 per cent to 2.3 per cent of the actual coverage area against the potential.” As for sprinkler, the study says, “The states of Punjab and Madhya Pradesh represented the bottom of the ladder of popularity as the range of the actual coverage area against the potential varied from 0.4 per cent to 2.3 per cent in these states.”
Inter-state comparison shows where Gujarat stands: Andhra Pradesh brought under MI system 564,000 ha out of the identified potential of 1,117,000 ha (50.5 per cent), ranking No 1, followed by 63,000 ha out of 211,000 (29.8 per cent) in Chhattisgarh, 525,500 ha out of 2,390,000 ha (22 per cent) in Haryana, 405,900 ha out of 1,442,000 ha (28.2 per cent) in Karnataka, 696,900 ha out of 2,714,000 ha (25.7 per cent) in Maharashtra, and so on. The study says, while Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat were the only two states where Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs) became operational for undertaking MI system — Gujarat Green Revolution Company (GGRC) and Andhra Pradesh Micro Irrigation Project (APMIP) — and the SPVs displayed “unique strengths”, things slowed down in Gujarat at time passed.
Initially, the study says, “the GGRC harnessed the prowess of IT innovations and APMIP utilized the wide network of its functionaries so as to reach closest to the potential beneficiaries for achieving an optimal level of implementation.” But “Andhra Pradesh surged ahead of Gujarat as it effectively put across the technology of micro irrigation among its farmers by conducting maximum number of training programmes and seminars, besides enabling the coverage of the largest area under the scheme.” It underlines, “The GGRC has evolved excellent policy frameworks, yet it has not been able to translate that proportionately into the field, probably because of the absence of an extensive network of its functionaries.” In other states, factors affecting the popularity of the MI scheme included poor structure and disposition of the implementing agencies, lack of proactive role played by the state governments, and quality of services provided by the registered suppliers of the MI system.
Special cause of concern is, “poor quality of service”, as issue that has been “raised by more than one-fourth of the beneficiaries of districts Porbandar and Junagarh”, the study says, adding, “Considering a high proportion of the farmers opting for micro-irrigation in the state, issue needs to be attended by the State government at the earliest so that degree of popularity is not hampered.” The study recommends, “Gujarat showed poor performance in providing trainings, demonstration farms and other capacity building activities. It needs to undertake concerted efforts and give fresh impetus to this aspect.” It also found that in the State of Gujarat and Chhattisgarh the proportion of subsidy on the purchase of drip irrigation system is rather low, hence it “should be higher as the initial investment on drip is significantly higher than that on the sprinkler irrigation system.”
Citing instances, the study days, in Haryana, all categories of farmers in Haryana were provided subsidies of 90 per cent on drip through the departments of horticulture and agriculture. In Andhra Pradesh, “the scheduled caste/ scheduled tribe (SC/ST) farmers belonging to marginal and small category were provided with 100 per cent subsidy, which is shared in the ratio of 40:60 by the Central and the State governments, respectively. In case of small and marginal farmers, other than those belonging to SC/ST, the proportion of subsidy is 90% and it is shared in the ratio of 40:50 between the Central and State governments. In case of medium and big farmers, the total amount of subsidy is 75 per cent and 60 per cent, respectively.”
However, in Gujarat, the study suggests, the subsidy is quite selective. “The total subsidy available for purchasing drip and sprinkler irrigation systems in the State is 50 per cent for the general and SC categories of the farmers, 75 per cent for the farmers belonging to ST and 100 per cent for setting up the demonstration farms for all categories of farmers. A provision has been made by the State government to enhance subsidy for the ST category of farmers and for those setting up the demonstration farms with a view to broadening the scope and coverage of the scheme based on the local conditions”, the study adds. Further, “the beneficiary farmers in the state are provided subsidy even on lands which are greater than 5 hectares. This subsidy is borne entirely by the State Government from its own resources.”
Relatively poor subsidies to the needy in Gujarat is offered despite the fact that, with the formation of National Mission on Micro Irrigation (NMMI), the Government of India “has increased its own share of subsidy to 50 per cent, from the year 2010-11 onwards, for the small and marginal farmers who own less than 2 ha of agricultural lands.” The study says, although it is more than six years since the scheme has been implemented, nearly half the beneficiaries have reported facing no problem in the operation and maintenance of the installed MI systems till the time of collection of data.
Pointing out that on the whole 46 per cent of the beneficiaries reported different types of constraints or shortcomings in the scheme, the study suggests, its proportion varied across states. “About one-eighth (13 per cent ) reported regarding the poor quality of parts like pipe, nozzle, washer, etc. The highest proportion (40 per cent) of beneficiaries with complaints of quality was found in the state of Rajasthan followed by Gujarat (20 per cent), Punjab (15 per cent), MP (12 per cent), Chhattisgarh (11 per cent) and Haryana (8 per cent).”