Electricity Dominates India's Irrigation: MIC Insights

Electricity Dominates India's Irrigation: MIC Insights
Posted on 04-09-2023

Three-Fourths of India's Irrigation Sources Powered by Electricity: Insights from the Sixth Minor Irrigation Census

In the latest news, the Sixth edition of the Minor Irrigation Census (MIC) has revealed that electricity is the predominant source of power, accounting for three-fourths of India's irrigation sources, surpassing diesel, windmills, and solar pumps. The MIC compiles data on borewells, tubewells, and other privately owned irrigation sources utilized by farmers.

Minor Irrigation Schemes:

Non-irrigated (rain-fed) agriculture relies solely on rainfall stored in the soil. Irrigation is essential for managing the uncertainties of rainfall, enabling the cultivation of high-yield seed varieties and providing opportunities for improved plant nutrition, pest control, and increased yields. Minor Irrigation schemes play a significant role in expanding irrigation across the country. These schemes can use groundwater or surface water and have a Culturable Command Area of up to 2000 hectares individually. They are crucial for agricultural development, particularly in drought-prone areas and areas not covered by Major and Medium projects. These schemes are broadly categorized into six types, including Dugwell, Shallow Tubewell, Medium Tubewell, Deep Tubewell, Surface Flow Schemes, and Surface Lift Schemes.

About the Minor Irrigation Census (MIC):

The Minor Irrigation Census was initiated to create a database for planning, developing, and managing these schemes, which significantly contribute to agriculture. The first census was conducted in 1986-87, and the latest, the Sixth MIC, covered data from 2017-18 in all states and union territories except a few. Due to the comprehensive nature of data collection down to the block level, there is a time lag in compiling and releasing the data. The Sixth MIC also includes the first census of water bodies.

Findings of the Sixth MIC:

The latest MIC reported a total of 23.14 million Minor Irrigation schemes in India across 695 districts, indicating an increase of about 1.42 million schemes compared to the fifth edition. The majority of these schemes (96.6%) were privately owned, with small and marginal farmers (owning less than two hectares of land) owning most of them. Groundwater extraction accounted for 94.8% of schemes, while surface-water extraction constituted 5.2%.

Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of Minor Irrigation schemes (17.2%), followed by Maharashtra (15.4%) and Madhya Pradesh (9.9%). In terms of groundwater schemes, leading states included Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh, while Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Odisha, and Jharkhand had the highest share of surface-water schemes.

The use of electricity for irrigation showed significant growth, increasing from 56% in 2011 to 70% in 2017 and now reaching 76% in the latest report. This trend corresponds to the rise in tube wells and borewells capable of extracting water at greater depths. While the reasons for this increase in powerful and deep-reaching tubewells are not discussed in the report, state government schemes that incentivize farmers or provide access to loans for purchasing such tubewells could be contributing factors. Additionally, there appears to be a greater emphasis on energy-efficient water extraction, potentially explaining the slower growth in electrification compared to previous years.

Thank You