Water accessibility is one of the key challenges faced by a small and marginal farmer. With good access to water, farmers can grow at least two crops per year and have a sustainable livelihood. Understanding this challenge, Syngenta Foundation India (SFI), in association with local partners, has taken up multiple irrigation projects across Maharashtra, Odisha and Jharkhand. Across these regions, approximately 300 farmers have benefited from multiple types of irrigation facilities: lift and drip irrigation, solar energy irrigation, deep bore wells and sprinkler irrigation. Farmers who could not cultivate their land in Rabi (winter season) are now growing high value crops and are thus increasing their income.
Three successful Irrigation and Group Farming Projects were implemented by SFI in collaboration with the local NGO Pragati Pratishthan in the Jawhar Project area. The group farming project under drip irrigation has helped many farmers to cultivate different crops throughout the year and has mitigated the migration of over three dozen farmers from the villages in Palgarh district to the cities. Financial assistance of approximately INR 2.5 million was provided by “Cox and Kings” under their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) fund.
At the Borichaghoda Irrigation Project, a total amount of INR 2.5 million was raised from IDBI Bank to support 32 farmers through irrigation. Due to comparatively higher costs, farmers were grouped together in different models, such as land pooling and community cultivation, in order to facilitate burden-sharing and support farmers.
A Solar-Powered Lift Irrigation System has been established in Chandrapur Village, Torpa Block, covered under the Ranchi Project. The project serves 23 farmers and 10.65 acres of land. They saw value in the envisioned project and promptly made upfront contributions totaling INR 200,000.
This project works on a 40:40:20 model with SFI contributing 40 percent of the funds (through the CSR fund), another 40 percent being arranged through bank loans and 20 percent made up from farmers’ contributions. The total project cost is INR 500,000. However, as farmers could successfully contribute 60 percent of the project costs, there was no need for a bank loan.
The Solar Drip Irrigation System overcomes the challenges farmers had faced with the Diesel Irrigation System that was previously in use. The new system significantly reduces operating and recurring costs for the farmers.
Irrigation projects in Odisha benefit a total of 176 farmers. A community-based solar energy irrigation project helps 90 small and marginal farmers with a total land pool of 32 acres.
Some of the changes which are contributing to improved lives and livelihoods:
- Approximately 280 acres of land which had never before been irrigated is now under irrigation
- A total of 300 farmers who were previously growing only rain-fed crops have now stopped migrating for work and cultivate their lands in both seasons with high-value crops
Due to a shortage of water and electricity problems we had to migrate to Bhiwandi, Thane and Borivali to do sand-mining jobs, leaving our family at home. The job would earn us our bread and butter, but affected our health badly. We suffered from back pain, itching and swelling. Now, we are self-sufficient and our revenue has also increased." Shantaram Doke, 38 years, beneficiary of the Jawhar Irrigation Project.
Doke, along with five other farmers from Ambyachapada in the Akare Gram Panchayat area, has formed the 'Laxmi Farmers Group' which produces bitter gourd, onions, amaranth leaves and jasminum sambac flowers, among other vegetables; they also practice sericulture (silk production) in the 4.4 acre area of three farm plots. In the past, Doke cultivated only rice and used a diesel pump as no electricity connection was available in the community. Diesel would cost him around INR 12,000. But now the group has been provided with solar panels and a solar pump for the supply of electricity and water. A check dam has also been built for them to store water for drip irrigation.