With only 17 per cent of the agricultural land in Maharashtra under micro irrigation, the state government has decided to increase subsidies to promote micro irrigation schemes.
Micro irrigation leads to better results, but small and marginal farmers often find it unaffordable. Of the total 151.33 lakh hectares under kharif crop, only 25.72 lakh hectares is covered by micro irrigation.
Conceding that micro irrigation schemes have not got the desired response, Agriculture Minister Dadasaheb Bhuse said, “The state government has taken the decision to provide financial support to farmers to make it feasible.”
The government also plans a massive awareness campaign to bring maximum number of farmers under the project, which requires them to switch to drip and sprinkler irrigation methods.
Micro irrigation was undertaken with the objective of make farming sustainable, as it helps in better water regulation and higher crop production. However, there is major expenditure towards installation of drip irrigation pipes and sprinklers in fields.
Since 2017, under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchan Yojna, micro irrigation is subsidised by both the Centre and state.
As per the Centre’s operational guidelines, micro irrigation subsidies are given to farmers owning up to five hectares land. Small and marginal farmers are given 55 per cent of the total cost of drip and sprinkler sets, while for other farmers it is 45 per cent. The expenditure is shared by the Centre and state in the ratio of 60:40.
However, the existing subsidy was not enough for farmers. Therefore, the state government has decided to supplement the existing subsidies with 25 per cent for small and marginal farmers and 30 per cent for remaining farmers. Thus, small and marginal farmers will now get a total of 80 per cent subsidy on drip and sprinkler sets, and other farmers will get 75 per cent subsidy.
Bhuse said, “The state government will bear the additional cost.”
Earlier, 246 talukas across drought regions, agriculture distressed districts, Maoist and remote areas were covered. Now, the state government has included 106 additional talukas.
The MVA government has approved a budget of Rs 589 crore for year 2021-22 for water sprinklers and drip irrigation schemes for both kharif and rabi crops. To ensure transparency in shortlisting the applicants, the government will use MahaDBT portal. Through this portal, farmers can apply online and avail of micro irrigation schemes.