Central Soil and Water Conservation Research and Training Institute, India
Suresh Kumar has completed his M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics from Indian Institute of Agricultural Research, New Delhi. At present, working as Scientist (Agril. Economics) at Central Soil and Water Conservation Research and Training Institute.
Over-exploitation of groundwater resources of the state has made the farming unsustainable due to increased water scarcity. The potential area for sprinkler irrigation in countries like India is huge, as it can be used for closely grown crops like cereals and millets besides using for horticultural crops, and in all kind of terrain conditions-undulating terrain, rolling topography, hilly areas, barren lands and, areas having shallow soils. Total potential area under sprinkler irrigated was estimated about 6.7 Mha in Rajasthan state but as of 2008-09, the area covered under sprinkler irrigation is only 9 per cent of the potential area. The large scale adoption of sprinkler irrigation in state may help in sustainable management of groundwater, and going to have positive bearing on the stage of groundwater development. Keeping in the view the water saving capacity of sprinkler irrigation system under different farm conditions (farmer skill, type of soil, topography, type of crops) varies between 30 to 50 per cent, two type of scenarios are assumed to study the impact of sprinkler irrigation on the stage of groundwater development, irrigated area and social front. These two scenarios are viz., first- with the saved water extra area can be brought under sprinkler irrigation system, If the sprinkler irrigation is adopted in entire potential area, then the around 2.0 Mha and 3.3 Mha area can be brought under irrigation in the state. Moreover, with the adoption of sprinkler irrigation, the social inequality of water availability can be addressed and surplus water also may be given to needy farmers through the effective and efficient groundwater markets. Second scenario - saved water may be used for recharging groundwater. At present, the numbers of blocks under safe (stage of water development less than 70 per cent) and Over-exploited (stage of water development is more than 100 per cent) categories are 1 and 8, respectively. If the sprinkler irrigation system is adopted in entire potential area, and if sprinkler irrigation system enables to save 30 and 50 per cent of water requirement for irrigation, then the number of blocks under safe category increases to 3 and 5, and number of blocks under over-exploited category reduced to 3 and nil. However, the estimated potential can be realised only if the constraints to adoption and to operation are addressed effectively and efficiently. High initial investment on the sprinkler irrigation, small land holdings and high rate of interest on the loan are considered as the major constraints to adoption of sprinkler irrigation. Main problems faced by the farmers in the operating the sprinkler irrigation system are intermittent fall of water table and erratic supply electric power. The regular and constant voltage supply of electricity should be provided in the day time, to avoid the excess use of groundwater, as the irregularity and during night time supply leads to excess use of groundwater and also render inconvenience the farmers.