• Farmers get many sops

    Chief Minister Shivraj Singh has announced waiver of the pending penalty on electricity bills of farmers, payment of their fifty percent pending electricity bills, arrangement for payment of electricity bills by farmers twice in a year, extension of benefit of Deen Dayal Upchar Yojana to farmers owning upto one hectare of land, additional bonus of Rs. 100 per quintal on procurement of wheat on minimum support price this year. The Chief Minister also announced to reduce the interest rate on cooperative farm loans from seven to five percent from April one next.

  • By 2025, water for agriculture may fall to 12% of current level

    Water availability for agriculture was estimated to go down by up to 12% from the current level by 2025 if remedial measures were not taken, Indian Council of Agricultural Research director general Mangala Rai warned. "The water availability for agriculture is projected to be 10-12% of what is now available,' he said while inaugurating the Krishi Vigyan Mela here. Mr Rai said farmers would, in fact, require 25% more water in 2025 than what they are consuming currently to produce food grains for feeding the domestic population.

  • Acute water shortage in Indus

    There will be considerable shortage of irrigation water supplies in Sindh due to lesser flows in the rivers of Pakistan and it has been decided to resort to intensive rotation flows from March 15. Sindh is getting only 20,400 cusecs in canals against accord share of 37,500 cusecs on 28.2.2008. Thus the shortage has reached to the extent of 45 percent, a spokesman of Irrigation and Power Department said on Thursday. The farmers, domestic consumers and all others using water from irrigation network in Sindh informed that with 45 percent shortage the situation is crucial and the department is taking following measures: (a) Drinking water for Karachi will be maintained. (b) Some flows for drinking purpose will be allowed in Fuleli and Pinyari Canals. (c) Supplies to Gudu Barrage Canals will be reduced to 1,250 cusecs being 50 percent shortage. (d) Supplies to Sukkur Barrage canals will be reduced to 15,000 cusecs being 50 percent shortage. (e) Supplies to Kotri Barrage canals will be enhanced to 3,000 cusecs to cater for drinking water requirements, which is 42 percent shortage. The spokesman said that in view of the situation, intensive rotation of canal flows will have to be enforced. The Chief Engineers/Managing Director SIDA have been directed to announce canal flows rotation programme according to the availability at each barrage/canal. This intensive rotation programme will be enforced from March 15 and department will made all efforts to arrange for judicious sharing of water and deliver due share to all the tails of the system and control water theft. Farmers and all others using Irrigation water have been advised to use available water carefully.-PR Copyright Business Recorder, 2008

  • Irrigation outlay raised 81%

    IRRIGATION Outlay increased to Rs 20,000 crore. In order to provide more stimulus to the agriculture sector, the government has increased the outlay for irrigation projects by over 81 per cent. The outlay has been increased to Rs 20,000 crore for 2008-09, from Rs 11,000 crore for 2007-08. The Centre's contribution to the outlay is Rs 5,550 crore, up 44 per cent over the previous year's Rs 3,850 crore. The Centre's contribution will be disbursed to states in the form of grants. The government is investing heavily in the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) and the Rainfed Area Development Programme (RADP), along with other water resources programmes. Under the AIBP, 24 major and medium irrigation projects and 753 minor schemes will be completed in this financial year, creating additional irrigation potential of 500,000 hectares. The RADP, with an allocation of Rs 348 crore, has been finalised for implementation in 2008-09. Under this, priority will be given to the areas that have not benefited from watershed development schemes. The centrally-sponsored scheme on micro irrigation launched in January 2006 has covered an area of 548,000 hectares under drip and sprinkler irrigation so far. With an aim to cover another 400,000 hectares, an allocation of Rs 500 crore has been made for 2008-09. Under the project, the states

  • Probe into causes of irrigation water shortage demanded

    The President of Sindh Abadgar Board, Abdul Majeed Nizamani, has stressed the need for carrying out comprehensive research on agriculture and irrigation water with the objective to enhance yield per acre in the country. The neighbouring country, India, is spending 1.3 percent of GDP on water research and three percent on agriculture research, but in Pakistan only 0.3 percent of total GDP has been allocated for the purpose, he said while talking to Business Recorder here on Friday. He said there was need for comprehensive research to find out the causes of shortage of water so that in the light of these findings concrete measures could be adopted to overcome the longstanding problem of acute shortage of water every year for Rabi and Kharif crops. In the absence of any study for the release of water towards downstream of the river, the sea intrusion rendered millions of acres of agricultural land uncultivated, he said, and underlined the need for a detailed study in this respect. About the shortage of irrigation water, Nizamani claimed that 72 percent shortage of water in Sindh adversely affected the Rabi crops of the season and if such shortage of water continued, it could also affect the Kharif crops. Though Sindh Irrigation Department has admitted shortage of 48 percent of water. However, the factual position is that the province had suffered 72 percent shortage this season, he added. Copyright Business Recorder, 2008

  • Banks to identify beneficiaries

    A large part of identifying the beneficiaries, crucial for the success of the Rs 60,000-crore loan waiver to farmers, will be entrusted to banks. It is felt that this would be the best option for the government as banks are expected to have records of persons they have given loans to, and in the case of farmers, would also have the size of their holdings. Having set 2 hectares or 5 acres as the size of holdings for the waiver's beneficiaries, the government has the mammoth task of getting accurate lists ready so as to facilitate a complete rollout by the June 30 deadline. Commercial and rural banks and cooperatives would have an incentive to draw up lists as they would be paid money for loans which had suffered defaults. Official sources pointed out that most of the loans being targeted were anyway "basket cases' for the banks. With little hope of recovery, the banks should be more than willing to divert resources to identify farmers who can benefit from UPA's largesse. In this way, the government would not have to depend on land and revenue records, which were not always well maintained and could be open to manipulation as well. Though payment to the banks will be staggered, in the first year, the banks will be given Rs 40,000 crore. Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar told the media that in the next three years, the figure would be Rs 8,800 crore for 2008-09 and 2009-10 while the final amount to be paid in 2010-11 was expected to be Rs 2,400 crore. While the effectiveness of the loan waiver, and its potential political benefit, is being discussed, the Congress leadership is in an upbeat mood. Scenes of farmers celebrating and dancing have helped waiver enthusiasts argue that the Budget announcement was a popular hit. The massive giveaway, along with the pro-middle class decision to raise incometax exemption limits, could deliver a formidable advantage to the ruling combine. Those who feel somewhat differently point out that most of the really distressed farmers were engaged in dry-land farming. In normal circumstances, they were not eligible for high loan amounts and in contrast, farmers in irrigated areas, with holdings of similar size, would get larger loans. Dry-land farmers had to depend on private money lenders and these debts were outside the waiver. On the other hand, farmers in irrigated areas would now benefit from the waiver while also being in a position to raise regular loans from banks.

  • Maharashtra's annual Plan fixed at Rs 25,000 cr

    The Plan outlay of Maharashtra for 2008-09 has been pegged at Rs 25,000 crore inclusive of additional Central Assistance of Rs 250 crore for projects of special interest to the State. This was agreed at a meeting between the Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Mr Vilasrao Deshmukh, here today. In his opening remarks, Mr Ahluwalia said performance in both human development and growth rate of the State was satisfactory as it is all set to achieve growth rate above national target for the Eleventh Plan. Against 3.8 per cent growth rate in Ninth Plan, the State has recorded growth of 8.2 per cent in the Tenth Plan. Improving urban infrastructure, housing, irrigation and agriculture should be given priority during the Eleventh Plan. He said the Commission was keen to improve performance of centrally sponsored programmes and invited suggestions on flexibility needed in the guidelines of these programmes.

  • Major crops hit by water shortage

    Acute water shortage in Nara canal system has badly hit wheat, vegetable, sugarcane and other crops as several branches and distributaries are closed for more than 10 days.

  • Shortage of water hits tail-end areas

    An acute shortage of water has hit tail-end areas of Nara Canal, adversely affecting recently sown sugarcane and vegetable crops.

  • Micro-irrigation in Assam (Editorial)

    Irrigation is specifically meant for increasing agriculture production.