By: B. Chandrashekhar
The Telangana Government’s much-touted Mission Kakatiya programme which entails silt removal of existing water bodies to increase the water storage capacity is already showing positive results. This was evident based on a preliminary finding of a pilot study taken up by the University of Michigan (UoM), United States.
A multidisciplinary team of 16 students from eight schools of the university, after having analysed the work in two villages of Adilabad and Karimnagar districts as part of their research work, realised that following the silt removed from irrigation tanks in their farm fields, crop production dramatically improved up to a high of 500 per cent!
“We are yet to quantify the high-resolution survey data collected across a timeline with 200 data points with pre- and post silt-application references completely. We are working on models for best farming practices so that their usage is scaled up,” Adithya Dahagama, a student of School of Natural Resources & Environment of UoM, who was on a visit to the study area earlier this week, said.
Funded under Dow Sustainability Fellows Program, the researcher team is working on “De-silting Irrigation Tanks: The Sustainability of Decentralized Resource Distribution and Big Data + Small Farmers: Leveraging Data Science to inform best farming practices in India in line with Mission Kakatiya” from April last.
The study found that the variation in production of cotton, for example, was very high from two quintals per acre to 15 quintals in the fields where the silt was not applied and the ones where the fertile soil was applied. However, it also found that 97 per cent of decision-making by farmers with regard to selection of crops, seed, application of fertilisers and pesticides was disconnected to the soil condition and expert advice.
“Except for stray instances, most of the farmers have never got any soil test done”, Mr. Adithya said. Initially, the UoM students conducted a preliminary survey on 1,100 farmers in 40 villages of Adilabad, Karimnagar and Warangal districts early last year. Later, they took up the pilot study in Chandaram of Laxettipet mandal of Adilabad district and Golivada village of Ramagundam mandal in Karimnagar.
“Our discussions with Telangana policymakers have helped us identify newer ways to integrate ongoing governmental programmes like Mission Kakatiya, Grama Jyothi, and Digital India to address challenges faced by farmers today,” Kavya Vayyasi, another student involved in the study, said. Ultimate objective of the study was to enhance site-specific decision-making of small farmers as it had the potential to save up to 30 per cent in input costs and improve yields by 40 per cent, Mr. Adithya said.
Source: The Hindu