Latest report from NASA indicates that the ground water level across many parts of India is getting depleted by almost a foot every year. Does that sound alarming to you? If not, think of the worst ever drought like situation we are facing this year since 1972. No wonder the agricultural produce is decreasing year over year while the food grain prices are sky rocketing. It is only the beginning and we are yet to face the worst if appropriate action is not initiated right now.
There is a bit of story behind this article. When I visited my native place earlier this month, I saw an old lady carrying a filled water pot on her head far from the village vicinity. Upon inquiring her, got to know that she was doing so to water the mango saplings in the agricultural land. The land has now become barren except few mango saplings here and there. The same piece of land was once upon a time full of greenery, but that was a decade back. I used to spend my summer vacation with my grand parents at the same place. Never ever missed to visit them whenever the opportunity knocked apart from summer holidays. Those two months were worth waiting through the entire academic year. Though I don’t have my grand parents now, those memories are still greener and will be cherished for ever!
Coming back to the main realm of the old lady’s story, she pointed me to a bore-well which is drying up with ever decreasing volume of water from it. Since regular way of passing water to all these saplings through irrigation channels over soil has become so difficult, she has opted to manual way of carrying water through pots and feed the plants. This may sound silly to most of us but this is reality. Yes, I personally know almost every irrigation well has dried up in this region. More than 50% of the bore wells have either dried up or there is hardly sufficient amount of water available for even mango saplings. The bore-wells which are currently operational are at least 700+ feet in depth. Click on the image for more details. If there is no sufficient rains in a given year, have no hopes on any kind of crop from these lands since there wont be any water available for farming. I was so lost with all these difficulties of the villagers, it made me to think a lot on how to solve their problems and to make the best use of the available resources. I could easily relate the urban population’s ever increasing demand against the rural woes in farming.
In order to address some of their issues, I did a lot of reading and a bit of research on effective farming methods and irrigation systems that are available in India and across the globe. I figured out that human intervention is so much with the eco system that we are into a big trouble. Our water consumption methodology is so inefficient, we are no where comparable to that of Israel. Their output per unit area is many times higher than ours. So, what are we failing on? We are not giving enough focus on micro-irrigation. This includes drip and sprinkler methods. Our scientists have done exhaustive research but their findings never get public visibility. Some of the state governments in collaboration with central government is providing an astonishing 90% subsidy on micro-irrigation systems. This not only enables effective usage of available water resources but also preserves our ground water level for next generation. Unfortunately, vast majority of the farmers are not aware of such schemes. Why?
Thanks to our blindfolded media which see nothing but negativism in our country. I feel ashamed to say that our media runs on crime, cricket, cinema and political controversies. These four things form the four golden pillars of our media system. They want to sensationalize a rape by an actor or debate on whether the judges should disclose their assets or not. For that matter even wake up Jinnah from permanent rest, talk about the rift between ‘A’ brothers to spice up the content. Oh wait, how can they forget running non stop ads in between bits and pieces of such sensational news?
I have no hopes on some politician or media system changing their view and start looking at what needs to be addressed to solve these rural issues, but ‘I WILL NOT GIVE UP’. I have a strong determination to help that old lady from so much of burden. My contact with Field Agricultural officer in that region and internet content from governments on micro-irrigation has been very positive till now. It only costs about INR 3,200/- per acre to install drip irrigation system for these mango saplings, since 90% of it will be borne by government. I am determined to dirty my hands to explore better ways of doing things. Any helping hands to join the cause will be greatly appreciated. Here it begins with a grand new start…