Saurashtra: Gujarat is witnessing a lush green harvest despite poor monsoons last year. A lush green harvest in a drought zone has come as a miracle for the farmers.
It's mid summer in Saurashtra in Gujarat. Till recently, this was a serious drought zone and a nightmare for farmers. But that has changed now. Farmer Batukbhai Gajera's farm is lush green. His papaya crop is already three feet tall and will start flowering soon. He has just reaped a harvest of ginger and the banana crop will be ready for harvest in a few days. Summer in Saurashtra is no longer a frightening prospect for farmers.
"I am now able to cultivate different crops through the year. My income has increased. It is over Rs 1 lakh a hectare now," says Batukbhai.
A few villages away is the farm of Merubhai Der. A few years ago, he would not have even dreamt of harvesting a crop in the dry summer months. But now his chilly crop is being harvested and he has sown other vegetables. Merubhai does not have to migrate and earns over Rs 7 lakh a year by growing various crops in his village.
Merubhai says he is very happy now and everything is good.
Like Merubhai, hundreds of farmers grow a variety of crops even during the arid summer months, erasing the tag that Saurashtra is a parched wasteland.
A hundred an forty thousand check dams help conserve water. Another reason for the lush green harvest is the ambitious Sardar Sarovar project that's being implemented and like the check dams, will feed water directly to farms through a network of canals and sub canals. These schemes have led to a double digit agriculture growth for the last three years in Gujarat, which is much higher than the national average of 6.6 per cent.
Kharif cultivation has increased from 80 lakh hectares to 90 lakh hectares in the past decade. Rabi cultivation has shot up from 21 lakh hectares to 34 lakh hectares. Hundreds of farmers have adopted contract farming and drip irrigation. A month-long Krishi Mahotsav programme by the state government has taken research inputs from campuses to the farms.
In 2009, despite a deficient monsoon of just 60 per cent, Gujarat's agricultural growth rate did not slow down.
Water Conservation Expert Abhay Raval says, "With only 60 per cent of rainfall, there was no famine situation in Gujarat. I feel there cannot be any better achievement than this because of water harvesting."
A right mix of government policies and a people-driven exercise to conserve water has helped Gujarat achieve a double digit agricultural growth rate. It's a feat that other states should look to achieve and emulate.