Somewhere in Gujarat....

Some 45,000 Patidar farmers in Unjha have taken a collective pledge to switch over to drip irrigation to conserve water. The pledge was taken on Saturday evening at the massive 18th centenary celebration of Umiya Maa temple at Unjha. Another 45,000 are expected to take the oath soon, taking the number to almost a lakh. The pledge assumes significance given that the monsoon has left many parts of Gujarat high and dry this year. At present, barely five per cent of Gujarat’s irrigation needs are met by drip irrigation, a system which helps conserve precious resources by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants through a network of pipes. “The pledge will hopefully start another green revolution in Gujarat,” says Narayan Patel, local BJP MLA and one of the organizers of the Patidar meet. “Drip irrigation uses 50 per cent less water than the traditional methods. Farmers in Deesa, who supply potatoes to MNCs, have already reaped the benefits of this system.” Experts say the Patidars are sending out the right message. “This is welcome news when you consider that only four districts in the state have received normal rainfall this year,” says Anand Agricultural University vice chancellor MC Varshneya. “Apart from saving water, drip irrigation improves yield and lowers labour cost.” “More than two-third of the state’s cultivable land is semiarid or arid. This year we have limited water to cover the 18 lakh hectares under the Sardar Sarovar Project Command Area. The answer to the problem is drip irrigation. I hope more farmers are inspired from Unjha,” says RB Maraviya, executive director of agriculture, Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited. The organizers are also holding an exhibition on drip irrigation at the event.

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