The conventional irrigation system used in the agricultural sector in India, called the furrow system or the flow-through system comprises supplying water in series from the topmost basin to the bottom-most basin and regulating the flow of water with sand bunds or weirs. The water for irrigation is sourced through pumping water from open dug wells or bore wells (tube wells). This method of irrigation is much less efficient than drip irrigation method as this entails several avenues of water wastage such as surface run-offs, high rate of evaporation, supply to non-growth areas and low absorption as water is not directly fed to the roots of the crop. There was a need to look for alternatives since water is a scarce public good which dictates the cultivation of the number of crops every year thereby directly impacting the farmers’ income.
Monsanto India Ltd worked with seed farmers in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Maharashtra with the aim to improve the efficiency of water use in irrigation. The goal was to promote sustainable farming practices amongst farmers at Monsanto contracted seed growing fields in alignment with Monsanto Sustainability vision of “Produce More – Conserve More – Improve Lives”.
Based on this goal, the Monsanto India Supply Chain set itself the following objectives:
1) To sensitize Monsanto contracted farmers about water saving methods in seed production
2) To install drip irrigation in Monsanto owned and contracted farms
3) To increase yields from per unit water used in seed production
Monsanto India worked with their contracted farmers engaged in seed production of cotton, corn, and vegetables (over 10 crops) to increase their water efficiency in irrigation by initiating and facilitating a change from traditional irrigation to drip irrigation methods. The project was initiated in 2010 and ended in 2014.
Depending on the production pattern for the year, Monsanto tied up with approximately 30,000 seed growers to produce corn, cotton and vegetable seeds in West Godavari district (Andhra Pradesh) and Khammam (Telangana); Chittore district (Andhra Pradesh) and Chikballapur and Gadag districts (Karnataka); and Davangere, Haveri and Koppal districts (Karnataka) and Jalna and Buldhana districts (Maharashtra) respectively.
The project was implemented by the Monsanto supply chain team, Monsanto seed production team and Monsanto product research team along with support from
APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
The Monsanto India team sensitized the contracted farmers about the need to shift their irrigation methods by:
• Developing a few demonstration plots and organizing field visits for farmers to these plots.
• Inviting field experts to the production locations and,
• Creating awareness about government subsidy schemes.
From planning, designing to execution stage, the Monsanto India team:
• Provided the farmers additional 2-3 crops each year which would generate additional income and encourage the farmers to invest in drip irrigation systems;
• Introduced them to reliable and vetted vendors;
• Facilitated farmers to gain access to government subsidy schemes
• Provided financial support to the farmers to procure mulch material which enhanced productivity.