Tamil Nadu signs Rs 20,000 crore pact with WB to develop irrigation systems

By Times Of India on 27 Dec 2017 | read
CHENNAI: The Union government and Tamil Nadu have signed an agreement with the World Bank for a $318 million (₹20,378 crore) loan towards an irrigated agriculture modernisation project to promote climate-resilient agriculture technologies, improve water management practices, and increase market opportunities for small and marginal farmers.
The loan has a five-year grace period and a maturity of 19 years. About five lakh farmers, mostly small and marginal, are expected to benefit from improved tank irrigation systems.

"Tamil Nadu, being a water-stressed state, continues to experience shortages which are expected to further exacerbate in the future. Rehabilitating and modernising irrigation tanks will improve the reliability and availability of irrigation water for farming communities, making them less prone toclimatic hazards. More than 1.6 lakh hectares of currently partially irrigated land will come into full irrigation under this project," said Union economic affairs joint secretary Sameer Kumar Khare.

The project is likely to rehabilitate and modernise about 4,800 irrigation tanks and 477 check dams, spread across 66 sub-basins, in delivering bulk water to irrigation systems. "The project will help Tamil Nadu scale up efforts to unlock the full potential of agriculture sector. It will support farmers improve the efficiency of water used in farming, diversify into high value crops, and produce crops that are resilient to the increasing threats of climate change," said World Bank acting country director John Blomquist said.

"The fundswillbeutilised as part of a comprehensive project involving agriculture, horticulture, fisheries, agricultural marketing and other allied sectors. This will help water from rivers, tanks and wells reach remote areas," said a senior state agriculture official.

"Paddy is the dominant crop occupying 34% of total cropped areas, whereas fruits and vegetables are grown on 11% and pulses and oilseeds on 14% of the areas. By helping farmers access modern technologies, linking them to markets, and providing postharvest management support, the project will enable them to shift from a mono crop paddy system to mixed cropping including high-value crops (fruits, vegetables, and spices), pulses, oilseeds, and millets," said the official.

The project will support smallholder producers adopt new conservation technologies such as the system of rice intensification (SRI) and sustainable sugar initiative (SSI). They reduce average water usage by 35% and increase yields by 22% per hectare. The project is expected to increase the yield of rice, maize, and pulses by 18-20%.