With serious depletion in the groundwater table in Pachamalai, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) is promoting drip irrigation among tribal farmers.
An estimated 32 acres has been covered under the scheme benefiting an equal number of farmers. Drip irrigation systems have been installed in fields where groundwater is available. “We want to check over exploitation of groundwater by the tribal farmers. Mango and cashew cultivation has been introduced on these fields,” says S. Suresh Kumar, District Development Manager, NABARD.
He said that drip irrigation has been implemented in 32 villages -- 17 in Salem district and 15 in Tiruchi district. The areas in Tiruchi district, included those located in Top Sengattupatti, Puthur, Machilipatti and Solamathi while on Salem side, villages including Periyapakkalam, Punavarai, Nallapathi, Periya Nagore and Chinna Nagore have been covered.
Lingeswaran, a coordinator of Hand-in-Hand, a non-governmental organisation which is implementing the Integrated Tribal Development Programme sponsored by NABARD, said that there has been a good response from the tribal farmers. Farmers who do not own farm ponds have taken to drip irrigation. The value of agricultural implements worth ₹7,000 have been sanctioned to each farmer under the programme, he added.
Mr. Suresh Kumar said that drip irrigation was the need of the hour in tribal farming activity. Tribal farmers were used to excess use of groundwater but were unaware of economic and judicious use of it.