Shankar Baitha, a farmer of Ramdaga village of Angara block, with a mixer machine of the drip irrigation system that has been set up beside Getalsud dam. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Ranchi residents, who discovered in 2013 that Rs 500 equalled to not even a week’s worth of vegetables, will welcome this piece of news. Year-round vegetable farming is a better catch than slippery fish, say Ramdaga villagers in Angara block, near Getalsud dam, 25km off the capital.
Ramdaga villagers normally raised one paltry crop a year, fished at the Getalsud dam and came to Ranchi to work as manual labourers.
But now, under National Mission for Micro Irrigation, funded by central and state governments, a drip-irrigation project for vegetable growing has been set up on 15 acres.
Drip irrigation technology will enable over 30 villagers to raise vegetables — as well as other crops — all through the year.
Under the national mission, Rs 35,000 were allotted to a farmer per 25 decimal — or one unit — of land. For this, the Centre gave 50 per cent subsidy, while the state pitched in with 40 per cent. The farmer bore only 10 per cent of the total project cost.
Water is sourced from Getalsud dam, channelled through pipes and directed via a network of ducts with holes to reach the roots of the saplings without wastage anywhere. Optimum utilisation of water under this system makes irrigation feasible round the year.
“Land earlier used to lie idle during off season. Now that we have drip irrigation, linked to the dam, we feel there might be good money in farming,” said a young villager of Shankar Baitha who planted vegetables “to get things going”.
Like Shankar, many other villagers of Ramdaga have taken up farming now.
“Usually, we go to the city (Ranchi) to search for work. But now, this will change,” said Rajesh Baitha, another young villager.
This change in mindset did not happen in one day, says Ravi Prakash, Angara block development officer. “Before installing drip irrigation, we had to sit and counsel villagers about taking up farming. Now, those who have land beside the dam have started believing in the potential of drip irrigation,” he said.
Though the infrastructure was set up in October-November last year, farmers watered the dry and barren fields with normal pipes in December to make them moist and receptive. Then, seeds and saplings were sown and put under drip irrigation.
Earlier, Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society, which works on the lines of the national mission, set up drip irrigation systems in a few villages of Angara block such as Jano, Resham, Getalsud — named after the dam — and a few others.
JSLPS official K. Hussain said drip irrigation systems installed since 2010-11 changed the lives of about 200 farmers. “Migration to cities in search of jobs from Angara villages virtually stopped. Each farmer is now earning between Rs 50,000 to Rs 1.50 lakh per year from vegetable cultivation,” Hussain added.
The farmers under the national mission can hope to earn more as they are getting more subsidy than those under the JSLPS, where financial assistance amounts to 50 per cent and Rs 29,600 per 25 decimal land.
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