Friday, September 1, 2017

Alternate Road Map for Bihar Agriculture
R.C. Srivastava
FNAAS, FISAE, FIASWV, FIE, FCHAI, FJISL
Vice-Chancellor
Dr. Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University, Pusa (Bihar)

            At present Bihar has 56 lakh ha under cultivation out of geographical area of about 93 lakh ha, which means that we have about 60% of our land mass under cultivation leaving very little for forest, infrastructure development and industry.  A major impediment to our infrastructure development is lack of land availability and stiff resistance to land acquisition because it will be depriving them of their source of livelihood.  This becomes even more important because 68% of Bihar population derives their livelihood from agriculture.
            Out of 56 lakh ha about 45 lakh ha is under cultivation of food crops (cereals and pulses).  Presently, this 45 lakhs ha is producing about approx. 80 lakh tonnes rice, 50 lakh tonnes of wheat, 30 lakh tonnes of maize and 5 lakh tonnes of pulses making a total of 165 lakh tonnes.  Our agriculture road map envisages gradual increasing productivity of these crops and at the same time enhancing area under orchards, vegetables along with focus on animal husbandry without talking from where the land will come for growing fodder crop to ever increasing cattle population.
            Thus it is essential to think on a target productivity approach to reduce the area under food crops so that a significant area can be put up under horticultural crops and fodder crop and remaining retired/shifted to industry and infrastructure development.
            My envisaged plan is to divide state in blocks where following productivity targets have to be achieved in next three years.
Area
lakh ha
Annual productivity
t/ha
Total production
Lakh tonnes
5
10
50
10
6
60
10
4
40
5
3
15
10
2
20
Total :           40
-
185

        The five lakh ha which will retire from food crops can be put up to other uses like this: 2 lakh ha for horticultural crops, 2 lakh ha for fodder and one lakh ha for infrastructure/industry.
            In next three year periods, the productivity targets will be revised like this:
Area
lakh ha
Annual productivity
t/ha
Total productivity
Lakh ha
5
10
50
10
6
60
15
4
60
7.5
3
22.5
                                                                             Total :
192.5

            The additional 2.5 lakh ha can be divided in similar fashion as written earlier.
            To achieve this, we have to first increase the area by providing affordable irrigation to whole area.  Dr. RPCAU has developed technologies for this which needs to be evaluated on large scale.
            Further, the requirement of seed, fertilizers, plant protection and capacity building of each such sector will have to be assessed and infrastructure developed.  Similarly for each such sector, warehouse, cold chain and value addition as well as post harvest measure requirement will have to be assessed and suitable action plan have to be prepared and executed on time bound basis.


Water Management Strategies for Bihar
R. C. Srivastava
                                                           F
Vice-Chancellor
Dr. Rajendra Prasad Central Agricultural University, Pusa (Bihar)

          The State of Bihar is bestowed with ample water resource but still for most of crops, the productivity is lowest in country. A major reason for this is lack of irrigation with percentage of irrigated area hovering around 50 to 60%. About 27% of area is irrigated by canal system which has its inherent water availability problems. Rest area is irrigated with groundwater with extraction by diesel operated pumps. The high cost of diesel operated pump create two fold problem: One is cost which is about 5 times that of electric pumps and second is use of centrifugal pumps. The centrifugal pumps are inefficient and when the water level goes down beyond 6 m the farmer has to lower the pump in a pit combination of all these factors force farmer to restrict number of irrigation to base minimum and due to this, the productivity of even irrigated area is less.
          The water management plan/strategy for the state can be two pronged (i) Providing irrigation to > 80% irrigated area with ultimate objective being 100% and (ii) enhancing water use efficiency in both already irrigated and newly irrigated areas. Following outlines the steps to be taken to fulfil these objectives:
A. Providing irrigation to > 80% irrigated area
          The strategy for this objective will be area specific. For this, we can divide state in three geographical areas, i.e. Gangetic plains, rich in ground water; plateau and hilly regions of Nawada, Aurangabad, Kaimur, Jamui, Banka and Shekhapura; and Dhab, Diara and Tal areas of riverine areas.
(i)                Gangetic Plains: There should be time bound plan to phase out diesel pumps. They should be replaced by 3 hp single phase submersible pumps in tube wells which are near to homestead where single phase connection is available. For far off tubewells, a decision have to be taken whether they should be fed by 3 phase dedicated feeder or by solar tree, depending upon the cost.
(ii)             Plateau and hilly regions :
The plateau and hilly regions can be irrigated by adopting any of the following technology.
(a)   Tank cum well system: In this system, a series of tanks followed by open dug is constructed in a drainage line. The cultivated area on both sides of drainage line can be irrigated first by using tank water and then using well water. This system was conceptualized and evaluated by author during 1999-2004 for plateau areas of Odisha and was found very effective in providing round the year reliable irrigation to a two crop rotation.
(b)  Dr. RPCAU, Pusa has developed a boat based solar powered pumping system which can pump water from river to cultivated area located on river bank. This system can be used to irrigate narrow valley lands in hilly and plateau region. These narrow valley lands area quite fertile and if provided irrigation can be very productive.
(c)  The plateau and hilly regions are criss crossed with rivulets. A good number of them have flow upto March. A combination of collapsible gate and solar tree based pumping system can facilitate storage of water in river channel itself and pumping to cultivated areas on the bank of river.
(iii)    Tal, Dhab and Diara areas:
          Out of 93 lakh ha geographical area about 16% i.e. 15 lakh ha area is categorised as Tal, Dhab and Diara areas. These areas remain submerged during monsoon months but are suitable for cultivation during post monsoon months. Although they have water available nearby but costly extraction of it make irrigation a costly affair. Due to this crops are grown on residual moisture with poor productivity. Dr. RPCAU, Pusa has developed/ in process of developing technologies for pumping water in these areas.
(a)       Floating solar powered pumping systems :
This system contains a country boat with solar panels of 1800 watts which power a 2 hp submersible pump. The system can pump water from river and can irrigate areas on side of river. It can move both along the river and therefore reduce the length of conveyance pipe requirement. The cost per hour is just Rs.32/- per hour which will go down further to Rs.17/- per hour.
(b)              The tal areas of Bihar are quite productive with sufficient amount of water availability no electrification of this vast area is possible due to it getting flooded during monsoon. Thus diesel operated pumps remain only option which makes irrigation unaffordable. With this in mind, Dr. RPCAU, Pusa is developing two mobile Solar powered pumping systems one for pumping water from nearby water bodies and another from tube wells.
2.       Enhancing water use efficiency:
          To enhance water use efficiency, two major crops Maize (rabi) and sugarcane should be brought under drip irrigation. However, this should not be traditional drip system but should have two components: one drip system in paired rows of maize/sugarcane and one micro sprinkler for pulse/vegetable as inter crop. This will not only save irrigation but also increase income of farmer as well as replenish depletion of nutrients by main crop.
          Thus, with above mention steps, the whole area can be brought under reliable irrigation round the year and state can get rid of drought.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Ground Water Based Irrigation – A business module

Ground Water Based Irrigation – A business module


            A major problem inflicting Bihar agriculture is lack of reliable and affordable irrigation. The difference between achievable yield and present productivity can be bridged if irrigation could be provided. Bihar has about 60% cultivated area under irrigation out of which about 66% is irrigated by ground water and 27% by surface water. However ground water exploitation is just 40% which indicate huge potential of enhancing irrigated area by using ground water. Presently most of the ground water is exploited through shallow tubewells with diesel operated small pumps (mostly hired) extracting water. This is most appropriate system given the fact of that 38% farmers have holding less than 0.5 ha. However, this system is high inefficient and entails huge application losses making irrigation a costly affair. An interaction with farmers of Motihari indicated that although they have irrigation facility but they apply only minimal irrigation as they can’t afford cost of irrigation by hired pumps.
            Thus for further extending irrigation facility to small fragmented holdings, one has to think out of box and develop a business module which will not only provide reliable and affordable irrigation but will also generate jobs and entrepreneurship. This article conceptualize such business module.
            It is proposed to install a 15 hp tubewell which will command about 12 ha land with a crop rotation of paddy – wheat/ maize – moong. The system will have an underground pipeline network to distribute water to each holding. It has been assumed that average size of plot will be 0.09 ha (30 m x 30 m). Fig-1 provides a layout of such system. Thus for a  12 ha area, these will be one tubewell in centre with 300 m pipeline of 4” dia to serve as main pipeline and 1800 m pipeline + 3” dia to function as submains. The outlets will be fixed in submains at distance shown which will be fixed in submains at distance shown which will serve almost every plot.
            It is expected that such system will cost around Rs.10 lacs with cost of tubewell being Rs.3 lac, cost of pipeline as Rs.6 lacs and Rs.1 lac being cost of pump house plus other contingent expenditure. If the enterprenur puts up 20% of his money and rest by Bank loan, his annual EMI @ 10% interest for a 7 years period will be about Rs.2 lac. This includes return on his own investment.
            This can be taken as fixed cost. The variable cost of the system will be as below:
            Operational cost/ variable cost :
(i)
Maintenance cost @ 2% of investment
=
20,000/-
(ii)
Operator’s cost @ 5000/- p.m.
(It is assumed that one operator will be able to run 2 such systems and therefore will earn Rs.10,000/- p.m.)
=
60,000/-

(iii)
Electricity charges @ 3.00 per kwH
Assuming 200 days of operation 60 days in Kharif, 90 days in rabi and 50 days in summers and operating hours 8 hours per day.
=
54,000/-

Total :
=
1,34,000/-


Thus total annual cost
=
Rs.3,34,000/-

Now three situations can be visualized.



Scenario-I
            The system will be self financing with no support from Government. Under this the annual cost will be Rs.3,34,000/- and per hour cost Rs.210/- per hour.
This will be best scenario with only market forces operating but initially farmers may find it bit expensive to opt for.
Scenario-II
            Government will pay EMI directly to bank which will cover fixed cost. There will be no subsidy at any stage. The payment of EMI will be only on performance of the system. If system stops functioning, the EMI payment will also stop and he entrepreneur will have to make rest of payment. This will have two advantages: First the fly by night operators will not come who take subsidy and later on whole system disappears; secondly the burden on government will be spread over 7 years and therefore with limited budget, it can cover more area.
            Under this scenario, the per hour cost will be Rs.1,34,000/1600 = Rs.85/- per hour which farmer can easily afford.

Scenario-III
            Under this, the labour wages in erecting the irrigation system can be paid from MANREGA funds. It should be reimbursed to bank which will provide finance. The labour employed in digging trenches, laying of pipeline etc. will be recorded as MANREGA employees and their wages will be reimbursed to bank as pre-payment. This will reduce EMI payment load of government. Further, the operator’s wages can be paid from MANGREGA funds which will further reduce operating cost of the system. Under this scenario, the cost per hour will be Rs.74,000.00/1600 i.e. about Rs.62.00 per hour.
            Benefit to enterprenure and employment generation.
            The enterprenure will be getting a return of about Rs.3200.00 p.m. on his 20% investment i.e. Rs.2 lac i.e. @18-20% return in terms of EMI payment. After 7 years, the whole system will be his which will have value of about 50% of investment. He can be allowed to charge 20% of his investment i.e. Rs.40,000.00 as fixed cost after 7 years by which time farmers will be able to pay more for irrigation. Suitable legal frame work will have to be created for this.
            The system will generate employment for installing the system at the time of installation. Further regular employment will be generated for ½ man year for each such system. For a normal village having cultivated area of about1000 ha, employment of about 40 man year in operation and about 10 man year in maintenance will be created. In addition, a shift from single crop to a three crop rotation will generate huge employment in crop cultivation and post harvest operations.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Doubling Farmer’s Income – A Roadmap for Bihar farmers

Doubling Farmer’s Income – A Roadmap for Bihar farmers


            Prime Minister Sri. Narendra Modi has given a target of doubling farmers’ income in next five years. While some supported it, few called it a dream or goal which cannot be achieved. This debate is very relevant for Bihar which has predominant agrarian economy with 68% population dependent upon agriculture contributing about 22% of state GDP. Further Bihar agriculture is a low investment, low productive, low profit enterprise. So it is worth examining whether farmers’ income can be doubled in given environment or not.
            The profitability of any enterprise can be increased through three routes: (i) reducing cost of inputs; (ii) increasing the system efficiency of enterprise; and (iii) increasing price of end product through government intervention which in this case is to be higher minimum support price. Out of these three, third alternative is easiest to adopt and implement but is fraught with consequences for overall economy. Further it has not much for regions where penetration of public procurement agencies is not sufficient. Thus first two options need to be examined about their feasibility.
            Cost of cultivation of any crop is made up of two components: Fixed cost and Operational cost. Fixed cost is rental value of owned land, rent paid for leased in land, land revenue etc., depreciation and interest on fixed capital. Operational cost includes cost of labour (human, animal & machine) seed, fertilizer & manure, insecticide, irrigation, miscellaneous and interest on working capital. Although fixed cost has a role in estimating cost of cultivation but for an ordinary farmer, it is operational cost which matters. Thus here we will examine whether target of doubling farmers’ income is feasible or not and if yes what should be road map.
            Table 1 gives data on components of operational cost of different crops for North Bihar conditions. It is evident from table that human labour cost is the highest among all components with maximum in paddy. Let us analyze cost of which component can be reduced. In case of paddy the share of human labour is the highest due to labour used in transplanting. If use of paddy transplanter could be popularized as well as better paddy transplanter could be designed to be suitable for small and marginal farmers, the cost of labour can be reduced significantly. Similarly with better mechanization in wheat and maize, the cost of labour can be easily reduced by 25% if not by 50%. Second cost component of seed will increase if we replace existing seed with certified good quality seed. Thus the cost of seed will increase by 50% but the productivity will increase by minimum 10%. Third cost component is fertilizer whose cost can be reduced by using soil health card information properly. It has been found in few studies that fertilizer use has reduced by 25% if targetter fertilizer is used. Further if at village level vermi-compost is prepared using organic household waste (linking with Swachhchh Bharat) and payment of labour wages from MANREGA, the cost of fertilizer can be reduced significantly by atleast 25%. The cost of labour is about 40% percent of total cost of vermin-compost and therefore, MANREGA funds can be used both for job creation as well as reducing cost of cultivation.  In a study conducted by author, it has been found that in alluvial aquifer zone (to which North Bihar belong), if diesel pump is replaced by electric pumps the cost of water is reduced by 80%. If centrifugal pump presently in use is replaced by efficient submersible pumps, the cost will further reduce.
            Thus if we can reduce labour cost by 25% through mechanization, fertilizer cost by 25% through targeted fertilization and village level production of vermi-compost, irrigation cost by 80% through replacing diesel pump by electric pump and increasing seed cost by 50% through seed replacement the net return will increase by 81.04% for paddy, 12.09% for wheat and 19.13% for maize. If we assume that just by seed replacement, yield will increase by 10% which is at lower end of estimate, the income will increase by 126.09% for paddy, 32.66% for wheat and 36.75% for maize. It will further increase if we could reduce post harvest losses and do some value addition.
            If the whole scenario is seen in terms of crop rotation i.e. paddy-wheat and paddy-maize, the net return for a full year the income will increase by 28% and 30%, respectively if no increase in productivity is assumed. With 10% increase in productivity, which is minimum found to be due to seed change alone, the increase will jump to 54.22 and 52.44 respectively. If 5% increase in gross return due to reduction in post harvest losses accounted, the increase in net return is 68.63 and 64.78% respectively which increase to 83.76 and 88.21% respectively if we account for 5% increase in gross return with local level value addition.

            It is therefore evident that enhancing farmers’ income by 100% is not that difficult especially in low investment low productivity, low income scenario of North Bihar agriculture. Only requirement is proper mechanization compatible to conditions of small and marginal farmers, reduction in cost of fertilizer with targeted fertilizer as well as production of vermin-compost by converging MANREGA funds, seed replacement, and electrification of irrigation pumps on input cost side. On the output side we need to reduce post harvest losses by adequate storage facilities and develop infrastructure for part value addition at local level. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Arsenic Problem in Ballia District (U.P.), A Road Map for Mitigation of Problem

Arsenic Problem in Ballia District, A Road Map for Mitigation of Problem

Arsenic in the ground water is a worldwide problem as about 150 million people are at risk and more than 70 countries are suffering from this havoc. Arsenic is a carcinogen and responsible of various types of cancers. This problem is more wide spread in middle and lower Ganga Basin, as the source of arsenic is the Himalayas and arsenic will be found in all those areas, in varying quantities, where Himalaya-fed rivers flow. Ballia District of UP is also suffering with this problem. A report by Prof Dipanker Chakraborty, director at the School of Environment Studies at Jadavpur University who has carried out extensive work in the arsenic affected parts of UP, Bihar and Bangladesh, has said that in places where there is large-scale withdrawal , groundwater gets aerated and the arsenic compounds present in the water get degraded by the oxygen. Arsenic also has an affinity for iron, so arsenic- laced water will usually have a yellow tinge due to the presence of iron. In Ballia district during 1994-2009, there has been an increase of 40% in tubewell irrigated area which indicate the extent of withdrawal of ground water. A team of Imran Ali, Atiqur Rahman, Tabrez Alam Khan, Syed Dilshad Alam, Joheb Khan, of Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, conducted a study in 2010 to study the extent  of arsenic contamination by using chemical data and GIS application (Ali et al., 2012).  100 samples were collected from deep, medium and shallow aquifer twice in pre-monsoon (April, 2010) and post-monsoon seasons (December, 2010). The samples were analyzed by atomic absorption spectrometer and correlated with geological features. The correlation between arsenic contamination with geological features and seasonal variation were analyzed by GIS. An analysis of their results indicated following:
1.      The arsenic contamination increases as the width of Doab is decreasing i.e. from west to east.
2.      The blocks which have zero irrigated area from canal have more arsenic contamination.
3.      The arsenic level is lower in deeper aquifer.
4.      No much seasonal variation has been observed in that year but this may be due to poor rainfall during monsoon 2010, only 511 mm against normal of 983 mm. Due to this no recharge could have taken place.

In view of this, following short term, medium term and long term measures are suggested:

Short term
1.      Arsenic filter developed by Jadavpur University should be provided to villages with priority to blocks located in eastern part of district.
2.      All hand pumps should be deepened to extract water only from deep aquifer. This will take care of arsenic problem in western and central part to a good extent.

Medium term
1.      As the non-presence of canal has shown higher arsenic concentration which indicates that the recharge to ground water reduces the concentration. Due to non maintenance of village ponds, most of them have silted up and thus the recharge capacity of these have reduced significantly. Thus all ponds should be desilted and their original capacity should be restored. This will facilitate recharge of ground water and subsequent reduction in arsenic concentration. The MANAREGA funds can be used for this purpose.

Long term
1.      Since the deep aquifer will be tapped for both drinking as well as irrigation purposes, there is need to develop a ground water recharge plan to this aquifer. The water balance of the ground water aquifer should be studied and the amount of water withdrawn every year should be recharged back. This will improve the quality in long run and will reverse the deterioration process of water quality.


Ref.: Imran Ali, A. Rahman, T. A. Khan,  S. D. Alam, J. Khan. 2012. Recent Trends of Arsenic Contamination in Groundwater of Ballia District, Uttar Pradesh, India Gazi University Journal of Science GU J Sci 25(4): 853-861

Table 1 Arsenic levels in ground water in different blocks of Ballia district
Sl. No.
Block
Pre-monsoon 2010
Post monsoon 2010
Shallow
Medium
Deep
Shallow
Medium
Deep
1.
Belthra Road
14-180
30-120
6-60
23-180
10-130
2-102
2.
Nagra
14-180
30-120
6-60
23-180
10-130
2-102
3.
Rasra
14-180
30-120
6-60
23-180
10-130
2-102
4.
Chilkahar
14-180
30-120
6-60
23-180
10-130
2-102
5.
Pandah
14-180
30-120
6-60
23-180
10-130
2-102
6.
Navanagar
180-360
121-310
61-155
181-360
131-250
103-203
7.
Maniyar
361-540
211-300
116-176
361-540
251-370
204-304
8.
Gadhwar
181-360
121-310
61-115
181-360
121-310
61-115
9.
Beruarbari
181-360
121-310
61-115
181-360
121-310
61-115
10.
Hanumanganj
181-360
121-310
61-115
181-360
121-310
61-115
11.
Sohaon
361-540
211-300
116-176
361-540
211-300
116-176
12.
Bansdih
541-720
301-390
177-237
541-720
301-390
177-237
13.
Dubhad
541-720
301-390
177-237
541-720
301-390
177-237
14.
Belhari
721-820
391-450
238-300
721-820
391-450
238-300
15.
Reoti
541-720
301-390
177-237
541-720
301-390
177-237
16.
Baria
721-820
391-450
238-300
721-820
391-450
238-300
17.
Murli chapra
721-820
391-450
238-300
721-820
391-450
238-300


(1)    Shallow (0-80 feet), (2) Medium (81-120 feet), and (3) Deep aquifer (above 120 feet).