Mumbai, July 19: Maharashtra government made ‘drip irrigation’ mandatory in all the irrigation command areas across the Maharashtra for the cultivation of sugarcane crops. Hence from now onwards sugar cane will not be allowed to be cultivated if the fields do not have drip irrigation. The drip irrigation is mandatory for both cooperative and private sugar mills.
During the meeting, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis decided to install drip irrigation system in the fields of total 3.7 Lakh hectares in a phased manner over the next two years. The amount of loan will be Rs 85,400 per hectare, a release issued by the Chief Minister's office said.
Agriculture Minister Pandurang Fundkar said that "The government will borrow a long term loan from National Agricultural Bank and Rural Development (NABARD) and it will be distributed in a cycle through state cooperative bank to District Central Cooperative banks and then to farmers.” He added that farmers will get a loan at an interest rate of 7.5%.
"If farmers repay regularly, the government will bear the interest of 4%, Sugar Mill will bear 1.25% and farmers will have to pay only 2% interest," Fundkar added.Land that irrigates through wells, rivers, nullahas and lift irrigation schemes have been included in 'mandatory drip irrigation' scheme, he said.
According to the decision, the state will bring 1.50 lakh hectare sugarcane fields under drip irrigation by the end of 2018. In 2018-19, an additional 1.55 lakh hectares land will be brought under drip irrigation. Sugarcane is a cash crop and hence farmers from western, north Maharashtra and Marathwada region prefer to cultivate it. By making farmers cultivating sugar cane crop switch over to drip irrigation, the state plans to conserve an estimated 7000 to 12500 cubic meter per hectares water, an official said.
"Out of total water available in the state, 70% to 80% water is used for purpose of irrigation. Drip irrigation will consume minimum water and will produce more crops. It will also help mitigate pesticides and manpower issues, Fundkar said.