Mains Marks Booster     4th August 2023        
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Irrigation is the practice of applying controlled amounts of water to land to help grow crops, landscape plants, and lawns. It helps to grow agricultural crops, maintain landscapes, and revegetate disturbed soils in dry areas and during periods of less than average rainfall. 

Agricultural irrigation: present status

  • About 80 percent of the current water use is drawn by agriculture.
  • Irrigated area accounts for nearly 48.8 per cent of the 140 million hectare (mha) of agricultural land in India, the remaining 51.2 percent is rainfed.

Types of irrigation system:

Types of irrigation system:


Micro irrigation is a modern method of irrigation; by this method water is irrigated through drippers, sprinklers, foggers and by other emitters on the surface or subsurface of the land.

Need for Micro Irrigation 

    • Up to 60% of water used for sugarcane, banana, okra, papaya, bitter-gourd and few other crops could be saved if drip irrigation system is employed for cultivation (average penetration of micro irrigation stands at meagre 19% in the country).
    • Presently, India has over 2.3 crore pumps drawing water for agriculture with 70 percent of all groundwater and 80 percent of freshwater in India being used for inefficient flood irrigation and other irrigation purposes.
    • Flood irrigation delivers only 35-40 percent water use efficiency, as opposed to micro-irrigation which has up to 90 percent efficiency. 

Types Of Micro Irrigation

There are majorly 5 types of Micro Irrigation Systems

  • Sprinkler Irrigation
  • Drip Irrigation
  • Spray Irrigation 
  • Subsurface Irrigation 
  • Bubbler Irrigation

Benefits of Micro-Irrigation System:

  • Increases yield and cost savings: According to ICAR, farmers adopting micro irrigation technology in wheat crop saved water by 15% and improved yield by 21% as compared to the farmers using flood irrigation. 
  • Water use efficiency: water-saving is achieved up to 36-68% over the conventional flow irrigation systems.
  • Improves the quality of crops due to reduced consumption of fertilisers through fertigation .
  • Weed control: due to targeted application of water to roots.
  • Energy efficient due to reduction in consumption in energy required for lifting water from irrigation wells.

Challenges /Constraints in Adoption of Micro Irrigation 

  • High initial investment: According to a study by ICAR: About 55 % non-adopters of the system perceived that MI required high initial investment.
  • Free energy availability discourage the adoption of MI as it fails to incentivize farmers to save energy and water by adopting efficient technologies. 
    • High cost of maintenance: Soil particles, algae, or mineral precipitates can clog the emission devices thus impacting the efficiency. 
    • Inadequate promotional and information efforts:  Lack of information about location specific and crop-specific irrigation and fertigation scheduling limits scaling up of the MI technology
  • Poor integration with farm irrigation system.

Government initiative for irrigation 

  • Micro irrigation fund- dedicated micro irrigation fund with NABARD.
  • Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana- Enhance physical access of water on farm and expand cultivable area under assured irrigation, improve on-farm water use efficiency, introduce sustainable water conservation practices, etc.
  • Rainfed area development program -Focuses on Integrated Farming System (IFS) for enhancing productivity and minimizing risks associated with climatic variabilities.

Way forward

  • Capacity building program should be an integral part of MIS.
  • Awareness and mass contact programs should be a continuous process, so that more farmers can be brought in ambit of MI.
  • The firms supplying the system must be made responsible for the maintenance and supply of spares at least for five years.
  • Region specific demonstration farms may be supported and organized for successful adoption of MI systems. 

Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana: 

  • Launched: In 2015; a Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
  • Aim: To cover the remaining rainfed Area with irrigation.
Ensuring access to water to every farm (“Har Khet Ko Pani”).Improving water use efficiency (“Per Drop More Crop”).
  • Programme Components
    1. Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP): Under Ministry of Jal Shakti; focuses on faster completion of ongoing Major and Medium Irrigation including National Projects.
    2. Har Khet Ko Paani (HKKP): Under Ministry of Jal Shakti; focuses on Command Area Development (CAD), Repair, Renovation & Restoration (RRR) of Water Bodies, Surface Minor Irrigation (SMI) schemes, and Ground Water Development.
Per Drop More Crop: Under Ministry of Agriculture; focuses on water conveyance and precision water application in the farm (Jal Sinchan).Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP): Under Ministry of Rural Development; focuses on development of rainfed portions and culturable wastelands.


It is time that India in her concern for the environment, ecology, social/human, and rights relating to water shifts the subject of water to the concurrent list of the Constitution and frames policy that aims at transforming the country into a Sujalam [richly watered], Suphalam [richly fruited] and Sasya Shyamalan [richly harvested].

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