July 06, 2020

[Case Study] Enabling Prosperity through Agriculture-How ACF helped farmers in Farakka achieve a 2x increase in profits!

For many developing countries increasing agricultural productivity is a key to poverty reduction. The over-dependence on monsoons is not a sustainable one & irrigated agriculture remains a resource that many poor producers want, and still ask for. Conversely, un-monitored water wastage is causing huge losses to farmers who face increased production costs and a water crisis that lurks right around the corner. In such a context, both water availability & sustainability are crucial questions to answer when implementing a water project.

The Background

Murshidabad district, West Bengal is one of the most socioeconomic backward regions of the state with a population of 2.74 lakhs. The villages in the district are located along the Kalai river, an area prone to frequent flooding and occasional droughts. Agriculture and animal husbandry are the primary sources of income in these villages. In this area, nearly 80% of the marginal farmers and sharecroppers, farm on less than 1.5 hectares of land. Agriculture in these parts, is predominantly rain fed providing a single crop of paddy or jute. Over-dependence on the monsoon and mono-cropping results in extremely low productivity and compels most farmers to migrate for employment in the off season to the nearby towns.

ACF's Intervention with the Community

In 2017-18, ACF had initiated the construction of a check dam on the river. The water was found to be suitable for agriculture use. Thereafter, a project need analysis was done, and it was found that constructing a check dam would only be beneficial to a few farmers and not the marginal farmers. The marginal farmer's fields being on an elevation meant that water from the river could not reach them.

After frequent discussions with farmers, it was decided that instead of constructing only a check dam, initiating a Lift irrigation system would be beneficial to all farmers. Because water was not scarce, lifting the water to the farmers' fields would also allow them to grow two to three crops, instead of one. Consequently, the first Lift irrigation Project was constructed in Farakka in the year 2018-19.

ACF ensured community participation so that the project is sustained, owned by the community and is cost-effective. Community trainings were extensively carried out to educate them about the systems, technicalities of fixing and fitting of pipelines etc. Through sweat equity, the community also participated in the project. User groups were formed among the farmers to take responsibility of these systems.

Lift Irrigation system by ACF in Farakka

The Impact created

Post installation, the farmers have been harvesting three crops in a year (paddy, pulses/mustard, and vegetables), increasing cropping intensity by about 200%. Agriculture incomes have doubled (approx.) to Rs. 76600/- per acre from a previous Rs. 40680 per acre. About 55 hectares of area has been brought under irrigation, increasing agriculture production by at least 1.5 times. Access to water, necessary to increase farm productivity, has been institutionalized by ACF which has mobilised farmers into 'Farmer Clubs' with each club investing in electricity, pump installation and pump operator to pipe water for irrigation. Each farmer pays a monthly fee to the club and when a farmer needs an hour of water, they simply pay for the pump cost to use the irrigation system. In 2019, 2 more clubs were set up (reaching 100 Farmers & 55 farmers respectively) with their own pump units thus replicating the successful model.

To date, this is the transformation that has been achieved in the region: -

  • 3 Farmer Clubs Established with Lift Irrigation Facilities
  • 219 Tribal Farmers with year-round access to water
  • Farming increased from 1 Crop per year to 3 Crops per year
  • 200% increase in profits
  • 126 Women Farmers Impacted
Happy Farmer in Farakka

Testimonials from the Community

  • Chandan Kisku (age-30) President of Farmer's Club- We are getting sufficient water which is a miracle. Getting water in our fields is a dream come true. It feels like the river is flowing just beside our land…We are happy and expecting more crops in the future.
  • Ranjeet Mondal (age-32) We never thought that we can get sufficient water in our fields. It's a big project and more than 80 farmers are getting benefitted. ACF has taught us to efficiently use water and how one can grow more crops with minimum use of water. We farmers have been involved in the process from the beginning and it has been a great learning for us.
  • Biswanath Mondal (age-48) I was using two machines to lift water and yet unable to carry water to my field. Now it has become easy to get water with little investment. It also saves cost and time. We are very thankful to ACF which invested in this project. Our villages are expecting higher economic growth after this project as we have sufficient water throughout the year and for more crops.

Expansion of the Project

For 2020-21, ACF-Farakka has planned one more irrigation project for the farmers of Jalpukaria village, in partnership with IndusInd Bank. The project will involve constructing 4 additional Lift Irrigation systems as well as 2 check dams and will cover around 50 hectares of land.

Moreover, 270 Hectares of land (from 7 Lift Irrigation projects) where mono cropping is in practice would be converted to facilitate double cropping. Approximately, 750 farmers will benefit from these Lift irrigation projects.

July 06, 2020

0 Comment

Leave a Comment

Your feedback is valuable for us. Your email will not be published.

An Opportunity to Support
An Opportunity to Support
Stay updated on the latest insights from Ambuja Cement Foundation.