Farmers switch to drip irrigation with solar power

Rain-fed land to become suitable for crop cultivation on permanent basis


Our Correspondent February 15, 2021

NOORPUR THAL:

Local farmers have started growing their crops through drip irrigation systems run by solar power due to lack of a canal system in Noorpur Thal.

Gram crop is cultivated on an area of more than 400,00 acres for four months only in case of rains in Noorpur Thal tehsil, while the land remains vacant for the remaining eight months of the year.

Former president Pervez Musharraf launched the Greater Thal Canal project in 2001 to supply water to the desert area and to make it green. It was estimated that the completion of the project would boost the country's economy by more than Rs4 billion annually. However, the project did not materialise due to lack of interest and funding from later governments.

In the absence of a dependable irrigation system, the farmers of the area have suffered financial losses in successive years.

To make the rain-fed lands suitable for crop production on a permanent basis, the local farmers of Thal have implemented a drip irrigation scheme through the solar system. Various crops including guava, peach, grape, orange and olive are being grown through the technique.

Local farmer Mohammad Amir Ilyas said, “The cost of a drip system is about Rs1.5 million and it makes 10 acres of rain-fed land cultivable. The previous government provided 60 per cent subsidy for installing the system, which has been discontinued by the present government.”

He said that once the system is installed, it can provide water free of charge for the crops for many years. "I have planted 10 acres of olive under the same system, which is growing excellently," he said.

Another farmer, Mohammad Yameen, said that he had experimentally planted a 4-acre orange garden through the system, which had now begun to bear fruit.

Agriculture experts explained that if the land in Noorpur Thal is irrigated, whether through the Greater Thal Canal or the drip system, a variety of crops can be grown all year round. They said free or subsidised supply of solar systems could help boost the agricultural production, leading to a benefit of billions of rupees to the province’s economy.

Highlight: Former president Pervez Musharraf launched the Greater Thal Canal project in 2001 to supply water to the desert area

Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2021.

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