Improving livelihoods of marginal farmers with solar & drip irrigation in Gaya, Bihar

A Private-NGO Partnership between JAIN Irrigation Systems Ltd and PRAN, Gaya
Posted on : 28thJuly 2015

Infrastructure and Technical Support :Jain Irrigation Systems Limited,  Jalgaon,  Maharashtra

Local support agency: PRAN (Preservation and Proliferation of Rural Resources and Nature),Gaya

Knowledge Support: Alicia Harley, PhD Candidate Sustainability Science Program Harvard University

Reporting Period: June 2014-June 2015

Project District:Gaya(Bihar)

Background of the solar project:In Bihar the main staple food of community is rice .The productivity of paddy in Gaya has been low,around 1.6 tons/ha. Gaya comes under rain shadow districts of India and often faces severe draught conditions.The condition of dry and low rainfall area is worse and small and marginal farmers with no source of assured irrigation suffer a lot and do not reach their families food security due to absence of irrigation infrastructure and high cost of diesel for raising water from bore wells.

The system of Rice Intensification (SRI), which is locally called “SRI Vidhi” has the potential to increase paddy productivity and decrease the seed rate of the crop. PRANis working in Gaya district on SRI method of Crop Cultivation among small and marginal farmers through mobilizing resources locally and drawing support and guidance of many distinguished development professionals.

In August 2013 Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd &PRAN, Gaya started collaboration to pilot a solar powered pump and drip irrigation on Paddy in Rajapur village under Bodh Gaya block of Gaya district. A letter of arrangement was signed in September 2013 by Jain Irrigation, PRAN and Miss Alicia G. Harley, Harvard Doctoral Candidate in the Sustainability Science Program, Harvard University. Seven families were selected as beneficiaries for the scheme. The families contributed towards burying the drip system from the bore-well to the field. The goal of the project was to bring benefits to vulnerable farmers as well as to examine compatibility between SRI and drip irrigation in paddy.

The Rajapur Village:

Rajapur is a hamlet of village Pathara where for PRAN is promoting SRI method of crop cultivation since 4 years.The village consists of 49 households. All members of the village are from schedule caste. Under land Ceiling act these families were provided 12acres (total) of land by government of Bihar. Most of the families are involved in farming of their own land and also work as agricultural wage labor in nearby villages. These marginal farmers are also involved in share cropping in the hamlet itself. The majority of land in the area belongs to an upper class person who does not live in village.

Jain Irrigation Systems provided one 2 Hp submersible solar pump to the villagers. The infrastructure of solar plates and foundation along with solar pump was kept near the hamlet where the farmers live to protect it from theft. A preexisting borewell was used for installation of the solar pump. 6 overhead tanks and drip system for 1.16 acres of land was provided to 7 households. All these farmers took active participation in installation of drip system. The drip and its laterals were properly laid down in the field with technical support from JAIN Irrigation Systems Ltd local staff in Bihar.

Management of the solar irrigation project

All seven families formed a group called Solar sinchai sanchalan samiti, Rajapur (Solar Irrigation management committee). The group members collectively decided to charge Rs 20/hr for maintenance of solar project. They also decided if there is excess water that can be sold to other fellow villagers of same hamlet at same rate. For this they got a metallic box with five keys. In this box they collected the cash. In a separate register they maintain the farmer wise record of using solar irrigation. Altogether the group has following record.

  • One meeting register for recording the discussions and decisions taken in regular meeting of the group. The group meets at fortnight.
  • One water register for maintaining the records of solar pump run and used by group members.
  • One register for recording farmer wise vegetables/other crops taken in command area.

The cash box is with Mrs Kaili Devi wife of Sitaram Manjhi in the group. The member pays the cash amount first and then the solar pump is run for the concerned member of the group. Since these are very poor farmers it happens that they do not have any money with them and they require water to save the crop in drip fields. For this the group has taken an innovative step. All members have deposited Rs 100/- as advance in the group. They also take water after paying the cost at that time. If some member does not have money with her then from this advance deposit the money is deducted. The group has decided that the deposit of Rs 100 as advance should always be there in his name as contingency. As the concerned member gets money she maintains the contingency fund first and by giving cash uses the water.

Results of Project in 2014-2015

The last year 2014-15 kharif used the solar irrigation pump  to save their Paddy  crop. The Solar irrigation integrated with drip in Rajapur village has been very helpful in ensuring the Paddy crop in the village. In kharif a total of 22 poor households used the project to supplement irrigation requirement in Paddy leading to foodgrain security.

The village Resource person with PRAN worker in the field

Yields obtained in kharif 2014-15

S.No Name of Farmer Husband Name Yield per Katha kg/katha Ton/hec Total Land Under the solar project in acre Yield qn/acre
1 Kaili Devi Sitaram Manjhi 72 4.82 0.56 19.3
2 Bedamia Devi Phulchand Manjhi 75 5.02 0.37 20.1
3 Annu Devi Stayawan Prasad 120 8.04 0.37 32.16
4 Kumoda Devi Srichand Manjhi 79 5.29 0.37 21.16
5 Parvati Devi Akhilesh Manjhi 86 5.76 0.75 23.04
6 Mamatia Devi Shankar Manjhi 81 5.42 0.63 21.68
7 Mamkia Devi Pashar Manjhi 78 5.2 0.56 20.88
8 Dhano Devi Sajeevan Manjhi 81 5.42 0.22 21.68
9 Sita Devi Devchand Manjhi 79 5.29 0.3 21.16
10 Anita Devi Guddu Manjhi 117 7.83 0.37 31.32
11 Rajia Devi Lt Domani Manjhi 82 5.49 0.18 21.96
12 Arti Devi Rampravesh Manjhi 81 5.42 0.3 21.68
13 Chinta Devi Charitra Manjhi 117 7.83 0.56 31.32
14 Chinta Devi2 Jayprakash Manjhi 119 7.97 0.18 31.88
15 Sri Devi Arjun Manjhi 82 5.49 0.3 21.96
16 Kausami Devi Baleshwar manjhi 123 8.24 0.3 32.96
17 Parvatia Devi Shivratan Manjhi 124 8.3 0.37 33.22
18 Anjani Devi Shiv Prasad Manjhi 116 7.77 0.26 31.08
19 Beli Devi Lt Ramsevak Manjhi 82 5.49 0.37 21.96
20 Anjani Devi Sanju Manjhi 117 7.83 0.56 31.32
21 Gulabi Devi Premchand Manjhi 86 5.76 0.37 23.04
22 lalita Devi Jayprakash Manjhi 123 8.24 0.18 32.96

In the rabi season 6 of the farmers used solar pump integrated with drip irrigation for SRI-Vegetables while other 5 of the poor households used solar water for SRI-vegetables.  The longevity of fruiting in fields which were integrated with drip has been found higher than normal non drip SRI vegetables. Also the appearance of weeds in drip integrated SRI vegetables was very less as compared to non drip SRI vegetable crops. Further when we integrated plastic mulching with drip integrated SRI vegetables this provided advantages as follows.

  • No weeding was required in case of mulching integrated with drip irrigation in solar project.
  • The bulk density of soil remained high which otherwise requires weeding and aeration using manual or power weeder while practicing SRI vegetables.
  • The moisture conservation was high and required less water

Thus it is found that Drip and mulching further enhances crop productivity as compared to normal SRI method of crop cultivation. In long run the   Internal rate of return in drip and mulching is higher as the fruiting period further enhances. Wherever drip has been experienced the farmers have found this useful and the drip farmers when experienced mulching with plastic further their interest in mulching integrated with drip has enhanced.

Figure 2:A  woman farmer in her laterals laid vegetable field

The group charges Rs 20 per hour to members using solar water—they   collect charges to deposit in a bank account for future maintenance of the solar system. Before the Solar Irrigation System was installed, the farmers were using diesel pump sets which cost Rs 100 per irrigation in small plot of 200 square metres, whereas after installation of solar irrigation integrated with drip the cost for the same area came down to Rs 50 for same piece of land when we irrigate at interval of 7 days. The farmers who used only drip water their crops lasted more and they got more yields as compared to farmers who go for flood irrigation. Since farmers are cultivating vegetables with SRI method since 5 years, the drip integrated with the SRI-vegetables   provide appropriate conditions for roots and rhizosphere to grow close to its potential which integrates the principle of providing irrigation   in   SRI method of crop cultivation. Thus drip irrigation acts as synergies in SRI method of vegetable cultivation.  As a result of drip irrigation the longevity of fruiting   enhanced and farmers got more yields. Thus drip irrigation when integrated   with SRI method of vegetable cultivation enhances yields to farmers as the principles of providing irrigation in SRI-crops are met best with drip particularly in vegetables.

Figure 3: Mr Gaussou from World bank and Dr Erika styger from Cornell, Ithaca visiting solar irrigation infrastructure  in Rajapur, Gaya

Figure 4: In hot summer farmers took SRI-vegetables and practiced mulching integrated with drip using solar irrigation project

          The group members used the solar irrigation till 24.5.2014  as per the following.

Period

Name of the Member

Hours of Solar Irrigation Consumed

Amount(R S)
Deposited

17/12/2013—24/05/2014

Smt Ano Devi

12.25

255

21/12/2013--21/05/2014

Smt Kaily Devi

10.25

205

18/12/2013--22/05/2014

Smt Kamoda Devi

18.25

365

15/01/2014—13/05/2014

Smt Badamia Devi

8.75

175

18/01/2014—24/05/2014

Smt Mamkiya Devi

10.25

205

Of the seven members one member due to conflict with the landowner did not turn up for cultivation and the husband of second member had gone out so she gave her land to Kamoda Devi.The households associated with the project consumed the vegetables at their family level which they never had earlier and the surplus they sold in local village markets which is held weekly.In addition to household consumption the farmers earned as follows. This cash were very useful for the marginal and vulnerable communities. These families grew brinjal, Ladies Finger, Bitter gourd, bottle gourd and Spong gourd.

S.No

Name

Area in acres

Amount(Rs)

1

Smt Anu Devi

0.45

12111.00

2

Smt Kaily Devi

0.15

2400.00

3

Smt kamoda Devi

0.30

5135.00

4

Smt Badamia Devi

0.15

2124.00

5

Mamikia Devi

0.22

2490.00

6

Dhanu Devi

0.11

2595.00

The poor households other than drip farmers also used vegetables for their home consumption which they never had earlier after installation of solar irrigation pumps which provided supplementary flood irrigation to their SRI fields of vegetables. They also earned as follows.

S.No

Name

Area in acres

Amount(Rs)

1

Malati Devi

O.075

1688

2

Parvati Devi

0.075

1120

3

Chinta Devi

0.0375

750

4

Sri Devi

0.075

1360

5

Kausami Devi

0.0375

605

Conclusion

The solar irrigation project integrated with drip is advantageous to poor and marginal communities in enhancing their life and livelihoods. It is also a climate resilience technology which requires only 10% of the flood irrigation usually prevalent in society. The advantages as perceived are as follows.

  • The soil do not become compact and hence less weeding is required.
  • Emergence of weeds is less in the field
  • It synergises with SRI method of crop cultivation particularly vegetables and other rabi crops and also Direct Seeded Rice in uplands

Way forward

In areas where SRI-DSR is practiced and promoted in Paddy integrating drip will be helpful for the farmers where as integrating in SRI method of vegetable cultivation it further enhances the yields of crops as common farmers are not able to control water in SRI plots as per the package of practices of SRI method. It uses less water and enhances water productivity and the crop productivity.

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