Small farmers were facing parched fields yet again. More than 50 per cent of the 1,490 lift irrigation schemes, set up by the government of Andhra Pradesh had broken down.
Though perennial streams and rivers were flowing close, water seemed light years away from the drying fields because the lift irrigation machinery needed to lift this water into the fields had become defunct. Farmers did not know how to manage the schemes. There was no money to pay for mechanical breakdowns and there was little by way of water management to ensure every farmer member got his or her rightful share of water. Under these circumstances, the Andhra Pradesh State Irrigation Development Corporation commissioned Naandi to revive a group of 65 schemes.
Six years after the government-Naandi partnership began to revive the defunct lift irrigation schemes. Water is back in the fields and farmers are growing two crop cycles. And all 10,0000 farm households from the 65 schemes, have tales of relief and satisfaction to share.
88% – increase in net irrigated area
85% – increase in annual net income per household
54% – reduction in distress migration
A year ago he was working as a wage labourer in people’s fields for 60 rupees a day to give his family at least one meal a day. Today, he has a savings bank passbook with a balance he could only dream of, a few months ago.
Dharmiah and his half-acre plot of land owe their misery as well as majesty to the lift irrigation scheme at their village, Motamarri, in the Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh. The lift irrigation scheme was revived by Naandi in 2008. And all the farmers here including Dharmiah, have had such a great cropping season that smiling for the camera now comes effortlessly.
Treatment for his mother’s gout, repairs for his home, andsvings in the name of his little daughter are some of the promises Dharmiah has made to his family. «If I can get such returns from half an acre of land just with one crop, then I will try for another crop cycle and grow food for the family too. This way I can revive the soil and also keep up with earnings. If there is water, we farmers can do a lot with our lands.»
More than just reviving irrigation machinery, Irrigation Plus harvests the energies of farm households into the institution of a Farmers’ Cooperative Society. It is a self-driven, self-governed institution where farmers decide as a collective, remedies of their agricultural, economic and social concerns.
Phases to achieving such empowerment
Today, farmers rarely rely on the government’s intervention for maintenance costs or does of supply driven incentives. Their Cooperative Societies are deciding cropping patterns, maintenance of the schemes, insurance, and networking with local markets for optimum supply prices.
Observations of a third party study of Irrigation Plus:
Based on the impact of the revivals the state government assigned 73 additional defunct schemes to Naandi in May 2008 for revival and institution of farmers’ societies.
Irrigation Plus is empowered in its mission to help small farmers by