Posted on: April 2021

Prof. Dilip N. Kulkarni
President-Sustainable Agriculture, Jain Irrigation Systems Limited,
Jain Hills, Shirsoli Road, Jalgaon-425001, Maharashtra, India,
Email ID:

Abstract: Jain Irrigation Systems Limited's (JISL) Agribusiness model is socially responsible and environmentally conscious. The mission statement of the company, which was coined in late 70s states that "Leave this world better than you found it" conveys the philosophy behind the business policy of Jain Irrigation and all the actions and business activities of the company are leading to a sustainable business. All the products that company manufactures and all its business activities lead to conservation and preservation of natural resources and environment. Water creation and conservation through rain water harvesting, efficient on farm storage of water and water conveyance through pipes saves water by preventing leaching out and evaporation which happens in open canal system. Micro irrigation saves water to the extent of 50-60% depending upon soil type helps in conserving water which could be used for irrigating more land thus helping in solving food security related issues and making available more water for drinking and for industrial activity. Presently 82% of all the available water is used for agriculture and 40% of India's agricultural land is irrigated mostly by flood irrigation with a water use efficiency of only 35%. Micro Irrigation can save 50% of this water which will not only fulfill the need of population for drinking and domestic use and industrial requirement but also can be used for bring additional land under irrigation thereby increasing crop productivity. Jain Irrigation promotes Good Agricultural Practices through its Jain GAP program bringing safety, hygiene, sanitation and traceability in agriculture. This program leads to judicious use of agricultural chemicals and the system of scientific methodology of handling. Jain irrigations energy division has developed strong renewable energy development program in bioenergy through plant and agri waste and also through its solar energy program. Solar pumps manufactured by Jain Irrigation are becoming a boon to energy starved farmers. Jain Irrigations business focus has been on Sustainable Agriculture, Water Use Efficiency and Production and Use Renewable Energy. All these business activities conserve natural resources and protect the environment to make it better than we found.
Key Words: Micro irrigation, Agri-busness model, Precision farming, Sustainability

Mitigating climate risks needs smart agriculture:

Smart Agriculture is explained as agriculture with increased productivity and farm income through minimum use of resources and which is environmentally safe, socially responsible. In short producing more from less with inclusivity and shared gains.

Climate-smart agriculture, forestry and fisheries (CSA), as defined and presented by FAO at the Hague Conference on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change in 2010, contributes to the achievement of sustainable development goals. It integrates the three dimensions of sustainable development (economic, social and environmental) by jointly addressing food security and climate challenges. It is composed of three main pillars:

  • Sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and incomes;

  • Adapting and building resilience to climate change;

  • Reducing and/or removing greenhouse gases emissions, where possible

The greatest challenge the world faces today is to produce enough food and generating adequate income in the developing world to better feed the poor and reduce the number of those suffering. It is a very noble thing to achieve but the path to arrive there is strewn with obstacles- resource limitations especially water and energy, land limitations and the most difficult one, reluctance to accept change!

Surely, there is not much choice left with us. We must produce more, use fewer resources, increase the value of the products so that the primary producer gets the benefit, and encourage him to produce more efficiently. It is easy to say all these things. Nevertheless, I am not talking about a Utopian world, but a world with physical exhaustible entities where only technological incursions can help achieve the goal.

As we go along, the challenge is only increasing in magnitude; the global population is set to increase to 7.8 billion by 2025 and 80% of this increase will occur in developing countries. This factor puts a lot of pressure on Food Security and concomitantly on resources like water for irrigation (Kumar, 2003)

The story of India is not different from this. By 2050, India should produce 494 million t (present 247 m t) from a net cultivated area of 145 mha (present 143 mha). The irrigated area then would be 145 mha (present 79 mha). We need water "Created" to bring about the increase in Irrigated area. In addition, we can see the net cultivated area has come to a plateau. India has shown the world a vital theory of water energy and food nexus that form the pillars of sustainability (Kumar et al., 2015).

The Prime Minister's slogan of "Water for Every Farm" can become reality only and only if we save existing water use with 3-4 times water use efficiency and very high water productivity factor. It is simple to conceive that without water saved from the existing irrigated agriculture it will be very hard to achieve the targeted area under irrigation.

Irrigated agriculture is the major contributor to the world food security for the last 4-5 decades. On a global scale, irrigated agriculture accounts for less than 20% of the total cropland area but yields 40% of agricultural output. With growing irrigation-water demand and increasing competition across other water-using sectors, irrigating crops would be difficult proposition let alone bringing in a second crop in the rainfed areas. McKinsey reports that the global water requirement is likely to rise from 4500 billion m3 to 6900 billion m3 by 2050 and this figure is 40 % more than the current accessible or reliable water supply. Doubling agricultural output by 2050 will require increasing the rate of productivity growth to at least double. This will certainly require substantial investments in making rain fed agriculture more efficient.

In India, we have arrived at a Critical juncture as far as our agriculture production is concerned. With just 48 % of agriculture land with irrigation cover the contribution to GDP by agriculture is possible ONLY by bringing in more rainfed area into irrigated to enable those dry land farmers to go for a second crop after the rain-fed crop. Analytically, it is increasingly become clear that sheer increase in productivity in the existing irrigated lands cannot push GDP much. However, encouraging one rain-fed crop farmer to cultivate a second crop would hike the Agriculture GDP to up to 8%.

Let us look at a practical way of to go about it.

  1. Development of small rainwater harvesting practice / farm ponds at suitable locations

  2. Package is for small/marginal farmers doing rain fed agriculture and for the farmers using diesel generators/diesel pump sets; as an alternative to electricity.

  3. Components: Solar Pump Set, Solar PV module, Drip Irrigation system and plastic tank to store water

  4. Target Crops: Cotton, Pulses, etc. after the traditional rain fed crop (cereals)

  5. Benefits : Slow application of water and fertilizers through drip, Reliable, All inherent benefits of drip irrigation, No operation and maintenance cost, Early Payback period compared to diesel pump sets, Environment  Friendly, No pollution

  6. Market Potential: Large stretches of Rain Fed areas can be brought under irrigation and a second crop can be cultivated.

This would come by adopting farm level water harvesting and using the harvested water to raise a second crop. Productivity can be enhanced from 2 t/ha (rainfed single crop) to 4 t/ha (micro irrigated using harvested water and raising two crops).

Doubling productivity in small farms essential for achieving sustainable growth in agriculture:

Small farmers produce most of India’s food, and do so with minimal resources. They get very little support both technically and financially. They are deprived of even the necessities like quality seed, and availability of water during crop season.

To transform subsistence farming into a viable commercial activity smallholder farmers need quality seeds, appropriate fertilizers, improved land and water management practices. They also need access to markets, low cost finance, infrastructural facilities for storage and transport. They need access to knowledge and information thru well-focused extension program. Above all the country should have policies that provide comprehensive support to these farmers.

The task may look daunting but it can be done. The inspiration from the past can be helpful but India needs a second uniquely Indian Green Revolution, one that is based on smallholder farmers; that respects the multiple agro-ecologies of India and its many staple food crops; that works for comprehensive change across the agricultural value chain, and that does so while protecting the environment, a Second Green Revolution must help small and marginal farmers prepare for unprecedented challenges lying ahead. Production shocks from floods and drought will increase risks faced by farmers. Smallholder farmers, who depend almost entirely on rain-fed farming, will be most vulnerable of all. An inclusive and Sustainable Agribusiness Model of Jain Irrigation for Replication in Newer Geographies with Small Holder Agriculture have been well documented elsewhere (Kulkarni, 2014).

They must be able to adapt to the impacts of climate change, from higher temperatures to changes in crop diseases and pest outbreaks, and increased stress on agro-ecosystems that are already degraded. Adaptation will require technological and policy innovations, coupled with new farming systems like the use of advanced technologies.

Totally unconventional but revolutionary thinking is what is required at present:

Few other unconventional ideas , that are at least not in serious consideration in the country ; are also of high need at this juncture; like reuse of waste water for farming and changing the method of irrigation for crops like rice and wheat in large areas.

Using technology to assist us one should increase the water productivity of these crops and divert the water thus saved to other rain-fed crops where a small change in irrigation cover and productivity can make a large impact!

A fundamentally new approach is required in our agriculture system in order to achieve food security through resource security. The role of all of us including farmer, consumer and policy makers are clear: Follwing are the thougt processes:

  • Treat every farmer as “Entrepreneur”

  • Focus on knowledge transfer and competency building of individual farmers.

  • Convert agriculture to precision farming model and identify risks

  • Provide Causes mitigation solution through PPP model

  • Creation of supply chain infrastructure through cluster approach

  • Provide capital subsidies and not consumption subsidies

  • Create decentralized irrigation and power infrastructure for optimum productivity

  • Create Integrated Soil-Crop-Climate-Market Plan on national basis

  • Create a national forum between Centre and State on lines of finance commission

  • Present separate agricultural budget in the parliament and create a committed agency for monitor and evaluation and timely course correction.

  • Focus on increasing per capita income rather than productivity alone.

This model provides an integrated, comprehensive approach in transforming Indian agriculture: improved soils, good seeds, access to markets and enabling policies. All are important, and must work together seamlessly to drive results. Indian agriculture grows only if the small farmers prosper and become self- supporting and contributing individual to the community. All our efforts are to enable him.

At JISL, continuous transformation is perhaps the most enduring constant:

There is a need to reinvent our existence in an ongoing way for some good reasons. An increase in global population, prosperity and consumption are creating a larger demand for food than ever before in the world's recorded existence. The finiteness of arable land is increasing the need for cutting-edge technology to be incorporated into farm solutions. There is a growing divergence between urban and rural incomes, widening the economic divide between food providers and food consumers. There is a growing aspiration among the rural millions, which, if unaddressed, could translate into social unrest. In view of these emerging realities, there is a widening need to transform agricultural realities across the largest farmer population with the biggest impact in the shortest time.

At Jain Irrigation, we recognize that, such a focus warrants an over-arching commitment–to approach the business not just with a sense of purpose but a sense of passion; to approach the subject not as a business but as a calling; to extend from what is beneficial for farmers to what is good for all our stakeholders; to evolve from a focus only on the profitable to the holistically sustainable. Transforming ourselves; benefiting the world.

At JISL, our objective is to increase farmer incomes, strengthen agricultural viability and create a sustainable society:

This is not as simple as it appears. In a world where realities are evolving all the time, there is a growing premium on our need to reinvent our existences that our solutions can be customised around the contemporary.

Over the decades, we have helped transform realities through the following initiatives:

  • Extended farmers from subsistence crops to commercial alternatives

  • Extended cutting-edge technology to legacy farm practices

  • Widened our value chain from seed to soil to foodprocessing to non-banking financial support

  • Right-balanced the use of natural resources, demonstrating the principles of sustainable agriculture

It is our conviction that when you fuse modern-day innovation with one of the oldest livelihoods known to man, some remarkable transformation can happen. At Jain Irrigation, we have been able to transform the agricultural prosperity of entire regions, lift farmers out of relative poverty, stagger the rural-to-urban migration, strengthen national food security and increase India's respect as a dependable processed food provider to the world. Transforming lives; enhancing prosperity.

At JISL, success is derived from the abilityto question convention across every management tier, function and initiative:

This warrants a need to explore a better way of doing things across the organization, locations and time. One of the most effective ways in which Jain Irrigation has transformed its business from the inside and realities on the outside is through its prudent evolution from a company manufacturing and marketing products into an organization delivering a holistic agricultural solution. Over the years, this company has delivered holistic value through the following initiatives:

  • We enhanced farmer knowledge and aspirations to inspire an embrace of cutting-edge technologies.

  • We enriched the application of cutting-edge technologies across farms with the objective to generate radical improvements

  • We facilitated farmer access to financial capital that would encourage them to invest more aggressively in micro-irrigation systems.

  • We focused on reducing the delivered cost of farm solutions that would enhance agricultural viability; we refused to increase tissue culture plantlet costs for years; we introduced the solar water pumps that would moderate energy costs.

  • We introduced (and customized) global best practices like JAIN GAP that helped link the output of marginal farmers with global markets. The result is that we aggregated diverse products into an integrated farm solution that has helped enhanced rural prosperity (Kulkarni, 2011).

Some of the Smart Farming Innovations by Jain Irrigation are stated below:

Innovation is the way of life at JISL:

We pioneered a tailor made drip irrigation technology for small holders in 1990's. While technology existed in early sixties, our innovation was in an integrated approach with a view of creating shared value. It was made possible by marrying the crop agronomy and irrigation technology for Indian conditions. We worked tirelessly in R&D Lab and Soil before making the successful trials at farmers' fields.

This document features some of the recent innovations as follows: • Rice with Drip•Wheat with Micro Irrigation•Mango with UHDP• Precision Farming for Sugarcane• Cotton with Drip•Tissue Culture Pomegranate• Agro=Voltaic Precision Farming• Jain Integrated Irrigation Solutions

Rice With Drip - A case study of JISL

An innovative method of Paddy Cultivation with precision farming ensures prosperity and sustainable use of Water and Energy for Food Security. The Research wing of Jain Irrigation has been working since 2009 to develop an innovative method of irrigating and fertigating rice crop. The drip-fertigation technology is tested in the traditional wet rice and the dry seeded rice (DSR) first in its own R& D farm and later in several rice growing areas spread throughout India. Inline drip tubes were kept at 60 cm apart on the soil surface. Each drip line has emitters at 50 cm apart and with 4 liter per hour emission rate. Daily irrigation quantum is estimated using Pan Evaporation and crop and canopy factors. This provided an irrigation schedule matching the ETP of the crop that varies with climate and age of the crop. This way crop received adequate moisture and not excess at any time. Fertigation is practiced in each trial. Fertilizer quanta are as per local recommendation. But instead of splitting the fertilizers in to three or four as in the conventional method, small doses of fertilizers are dissolved in irrigation water and applied through the drip emitters. Fertigation was carried out every two days till grain fill and the schedule was matched with the specific element requirement at each crop growth stage (Soman, 2014).


  • Rice yield enhancement upto 40%

  • Water Saving upto70%

  • Energy Conservation up to 50%

  • Water and Fertilizer use efficiency upto 80%

  • Soil health protection, leading to consistent crop production

  • Substantial Saving of Labour (Ladha, 2014)

Health Improvement of farmhands:

• Reductionofskin,respiratoryandmosquitobitediseases

Reduction of environmental pollution:

  • Lower Nitrate leaching into water bodies

  • No or low methane emission

  • Ozone layer protection

  • Global Warming mitigation

Some valudable data was generated in which water productivity in flood irrigated control ranged between 0.097 to 0.224 kg/m³ the same was close to three to five times higher under drip ranging from 0.365 kg/m³ to 0.714 kg/m³. Yield of different varieties ranged from 4.5 t to 8.19 t/ha under drip than 17.7 to 22.2 % over flood irrigated. Water productivity was highest 0.713 kg/m³, indicating that genotypes such as 27p31 have used barely around 1400 L water to produce one kg of rice which is approximately the crop loses by way of evapotranspiration only, to produce one kg grain, indicating water use efficiency more than 95% (WUE) under aerobic drip irrigated using plastic mulch conditions. (Soman et al., 2018).

Eco-friendly drip irrigation with fertigation system in rice based cropping system such as rice-wheat or sugarcane has potential to increase the yield levels of rice by 10-20 % and up to 5-10% in wheat with 50-70 % saving of irrigation water (Singh et al., 2018; Bhardwaj et al., 2018). A novel method of adopting sub-surface drip irrigation for rice was also tried at Texas, USA for its efficacy (Medley and Wilson, 2014).

Wheat withmicroirrigation

An innovative method of Wheat production with precision farming offers several advantages to the grower and the society.

  • Rain port protects wheat crop from heat stressIhigh temperature at grain filling stage

  • Drip Irrigation and Fertigation during the crop life cycle and use of Rainport during grain filling stage enhances yield up to 50%

  • Conserves precious irrigation water upto 50%

  • Saves pumping energy upto 50%

  • Micro Irrigation helps maintain right humidity I micro climate

  • Reduces incidence of diseases and insects significantly

  • Higher and cleaner straw production

  • Reduces chaffiness & shattering of grains

MicroIrrigation enables crop rotation (Wheat & Rice) with intermediate pulse crop during summer. Considerng the above aspects, drip irrigation is poised to be the future of Indian farming (Kulkarni, 2015).

For breaking the present yield barrier of rice/wheat by adopting precision farming technology in farmer's fi eld as direct seeding and irrigating and fertigating with drip irrigation is the need of the hour. The direct rice seeding generally require laser leveled plot and practical knowledge(such as field preparation, quality planting material, time of seeding, moisture condition of soil, depth of sowing and seed rate) for achieving higher yield (Bhowmik et al., 2018; Singh et al., 2014)

Mango with Ultra High Density Planting (UHDP):

The underlying principle of a UHDP is to make the best use of vertical and horizontal space per unit time and to harness maximum possible return per unit of inputs which means "planting of more number of plants than optimum through manipulation of tree size (Singh et al., 2017). UHDP literally means three times more mango yield, on the same acreage, in just three years! The innovative UHDP method of mango cultivation with Precision farming offers several advantages.

India, as a sub tropical country, has the largest area under mango in the world. However, productivity per hectare is among the lowest. Reasons include the fact that most orchards have senile trees cultivated by conservative farmers, under rain-fed conditions. Poor-quality planting materials, low planting density, poor canopy management, failure to use good agricultural practice (GAP), inadequate fertilizers, negligible use of micro-irrigation systems (MIS), lack of training and exposure to high-tech productive orchard management are other reasons for poor productivity.

The Research & Development team of Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd. (JISL) has carried out several experiments on young mango trees planted at 3×2 m (ultra-high-density planting; UHDP) using the latest technologies since 2006 in an experimental mango orchard using differential regimes of irrigation water through drip, fertigation using differential doses of fertilizers, canopy management and disease and pest management according to global GAP. Based on the results, the precise package of practices have been standardized. As a result, yield has increased two- to threefold with a higher percentage of quality fruits (Chaudhary et al., 2017).

JISL, the world's largest processor of mango fruits, established experimental mango orchards in its captive farm in about 80 ha, at 4.5 m X 4.5 m spacing, using drip system for irrigation and fertigation during 1996 in Jalgaon, Maharashtra, India. Jalgaon is not a traditional mango growing area. The water requirement of mango based on evapotranspiration for different growth stages were determined. The fertilizer requirement of bearing mango, cv. Ratna was determined by carrying out two-year trial [4]. Sivakumar recorded that the highest yield 18.39 t/ha and 26.34 t/ha during 2006 and 2007, respectively in treatment having 100 % of recommended dose of fertilizers (RDF), i.e., 120g N, 75g P and 100g K/tree, through fertigation as against the control i.e. through direct soil application of fertilizers which produced only 13.49 t/ha and 17.98 t/ha in 2007 and 2008, respectively. The package of practices using drip irrigation and fertigation had been standardized for high density mango orchards (4.5m X 4.5m which accommodates 474 plants/ha). Encouraged by the promising results of the performance of mango cultivars under high density, orchards of cvs. Mallika, Totapuri, Alphonso, Ratna, Himampasand, Banganapalli have been established at 4.5m X4.5 m in 120 ha at Udumalpet, Tamil Nadu, India (Chaudhary et al., 2019).

Some of the Salient features of adoting UHDP in mango are :

  • Accommodates 674 plants per acre compared to 40 in intraditional planting method

  • Commercial yield in 3 years compared to 7 -9 years in conventional planting, depending on the variety

  • Increases yield and profit up to 300% making Mango farming remunerative

  • Lower canopy enables easy pruning and training, better disease & pest management, effortless & quick harvesting farm operations

  • Bears fruit every year

  • All varieties can be grown under UHDP.

The critical component of UHDP technology is the management of inputs: irrigation water and fertilizer. These two are provided through drip irrigation system. In several states in India, mango is not considered as an irrigated crop. In the event that UHDP gets acceptance from Indian mango growers in order to enhance productivity and income it is imperative that they should adopt drip irrigation, wholly and not in parts (Kumar, 2019).

Precision farming for sugarcane:

Sugarcane a major cash crop in India has a unique role in sustaining agro industrial economic growth. Sugarcane being a long duration crop produces huge amount of biomass, and requires large quantity of water (1100-2200 mm) and is mostly grown as an irrigated crop using surface irrigation. The drip irrigation adoption in sugarcane increases water use efficiency (60-200%), saves water (20-60%) , reduces fertilization requirement (20-33%) through fertigation, produces better quality crop and increases yield (7-25%) as compared with conventional irrigation. However, if not installed properly, it may result in wastage of water, time, money and yield. The subsidy and technical support to farmers acts as an incentive to adopt this method on a large scale in India.

Adoption of drip irrigation (surface or subsurface) system in sugarcane is technically feasible and economically viable and needs to be vigorously followed (Kaushal et al., 2012; Ahluwalia et al., 1998; JISL Publication on Sugarcane cultivation, 2011). An imoact assessment of the use of microirrigation in Sugarcaen has also been documented (Narayanamoorthy, 2004)

Role of JISL in promoting hi-tech sugarcane cultivation practices for farmers:

  • Changed plant spacing from conventional to paired and wider rows.

  • Drip Subsurface Irrigation allows several ratoons and its management

  • Drip Irrigation ensures excellent germination even for ratoon crop.

  • Better sunlight penetration in maturing canopy resulting in higher photosynthesis

  • Irrigation and Fertigation through Drip, right in the root zone

  • Enhanced water, fertilizer and land use efficiencies

  • More number of ratoon crops per plant crop and increased income

  • Very high yields of cane, upto 280% of conventionally planted ones

  • Yields reach 100-120t / acre

  • Drip Irrigation achieves up to 50% water saving and reduced cost of cultivation

  • Revolutionizing sugarcane production even for small holders

Cotton with drip:

Pre monsoon sowing with drip and better reflush management results in abundance of cotton

  • Modified crop geometry, increased plant population

  • Transforms conventional cotton farming into cash crop

  • Reduces pesticide use by the advancement of sowing date before monsoon

  • Drip irrigation results in better boll development

  • Drip irrigation minimizes flower and square dropping

  • Allows better reflush management and upto 300% increase in Yield is achieved

  • Achieves higher water and nutrient use efficiency and reduces cost of cultivation

  • This innovation prevents soil health deterioration because of reduced chemical use

  • Provides opportunity for crop rotation with pulses or vegetables

  • Drip-fertigation has brought back cotton cultivation in the areas where it was abandoned once.

Tissue Culture of Pomegranate:

  • Introduced Tissue Culture Pomegranate for commercial cultivation first time in the world

  • Tissue Culture ensures disease-free saplings

  • No Bacterial Blight, No Wilt, Early Maturity. Superior planting material with TissueCulture, ensures Better Crop & Bigger Profits

  • Achieves commercial harvest in two years

  • Fruits are maintained throughout the canopy

  • Higher yield and lower production cost

  • This technology provides low or no mortality, uniform growth and development of plants

Agro-Voltaic Precision farming: A novel approach

Integrated Food and Fuel Farming for Sustainable Development- The innovative Agro-Voltaic Precision Farming offers several advantages.

  • Optimal use of resources such as Land, Water & Sunlight
  • PrecisionFarmingTechnologyIntegratedwithRenewableEnergy
  • Architecture of Solar panel & Crop Geometry ensures optimum conditions for crop growth.
  • A holistic approach to farming : Tissue Culture Plants, Superior Seeds, Solar Energy, Drip Irrigation, Mulching, Fertigation, Automation & Hi-Tech Horticulture Practices
  • Sub-surface drip, Sub-soil drainage, mulching & PV Panel as roof results in 99% water use efficiency
  • PV Panel grid protects crops from extreme weather
  • Rainwaterharvesting&recycling
  • No or lower methane emission due to Drip Irrigated Rice
  • Zero net Green House Gas emission reduces Global Warming effect and protects Ozone layer
  • Food and Energy production from same land gives higher income

Jain Integrated Irrigation Solutions (JIIS)

These community-based projects, being undertaken extensively in India and now in Africa, are opening up new vistas for the developing world. They are creating a seamless connect between Macro and Micro, Infrastructure and Agriculture, Availability and Productivity, Cost and Value.

This innovation ensures prosperity and sustainable use of Water and Energy for Food Security. This is a sensor based water delivery system with 24x7 availability of water with a crop specific productivity-enhancing package of practices more sustainably and with higher income.

Hence, in order to mitigate the risks in agriculture, innovation is the key and Jain Irrigation is deeply committed to this activity employing breakthrough tehnologies.


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Bhardwaj ,A.K., Pandiaraj T, Chaturvedi, Sumit, Singh, T.C, Soman P., Bhardwaj A.K. and Labh B. (2018). Growth, Production Potential and Inputs Use Efficiency of Rice under Different Planting Methods in Drip Irrigation. Current Journal of Applied Science and Technology. Vol. 26(6): 1-9.

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