Named as "mission on sustainable dry land agriculture" (MSDA), the scheme would cover 5,000 hectares in five clusters - Marungapuri, Vaiyampatti, Thottiyam, Thuraiyur and Thathaingarpettai in the district which were all rain-fed areas without access to water from Cauvery or Kollidam rivers.
Though the scheme was planned for 2016-17, the agriculture department could launch the scheme only recently in five taluks identified as dry zone. A total of 1,000 hectares each in all the five taluks have been identified by the agriculture department for the purpose.
"The purpose of the scheme is to increase the productivity of dry land farming, thus improving the socio-economic status of the farmers. Like the special packages for the farmers in delta areas, this scheme would largely benefit the farmers," joint director of agriculture department, Trichy SM Uduman Mohideen told TOI.
The primary agenda of MSDA was to create water resources for dry land farming for which check dams have been planned to be constructed across canals branching out from the rivers. The agriculture engineering department would implement the check dam construction at a cost of Rs 5 lakh per check dam. Except the taluks - Lalgudi, Mannachannallur, Manapparai, Thuraiyur which were partly delta, rest of the areas remained non-delta in Trichy.
The cultivation of red gram, cotton, maize, millets will be promoted under the rainfed condition. Under the scheme, five cluster-level teams have been constituted with each team comprising farmers clubs as members. As of now, 15 farmers clubs have been formed in the five blocks.
The clubs would be used for educating the farmers on effective cultivation practices. Capacity-building programmes and training on value addition to produces will be imparted to the farmers. Red gram cultivation was common in dry land farming. Instead of marketing them raw, the farmers would be encouraged to give some value addition for which the scheme would provide them dal mill, an equipment to process the dal.
The severe drought conditions had prompted farmers to ask for the promotion of dry land farming at the farmers' grievance redressal meeting in Trichy last week. "Additional 7,000 hectares will be covered in seven blocks this year under the scheme," said Uduman.