Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide USD 375 million (about Rs 2,532 crore) loan for a project to improve irrigation in Madhya Pradesh to help boost farmers’ income. The project will expand irrigation networks and system efficiency, ADB said in a statement today. The total cost of the project cost is USD 535.1 million, of which USD 160.71 million will be provided by the government. It is estimated to be completed by September 2025. “Water plays a critical role in India’s food production and the welfare of the poor in rural areas,” ADB Principal Water Resources Specialist for South Asia Arnaud Cauchois said.
“With agriculture under continuous pressure to meet society’s needs, given population growth and changing dietary habits, ADB’s project will support technical and institutional innovations to produce considerable gains in irrigation water use efficiency,” Cauchois said. ADB said about 84 per cent of all water withdrawals are used for agriculture in India, where 42 per cent of all agricultural land is irrigated. However, current average efficiency of irrigation water use is only 38 per cent, it said, pointing to the need for a serious improvement in performance. Productivity of irrigated water is further hampered by low crop yields and cultivation of low-value crops, it said.
In the first stage, the Kundalia irrigation project will develop 125,000 hectare of new and highly efficient and climate resilient irrigation networks as more than 40 per cent of the population in this area depends on agriculture for livelihood, with wheat and soybeans as the two main crops. “The state plans to double the total irrigated area to 7.2 million hectares (ha) by 2025 from current levels by boosting efficiency in water use. This will be achieved through developing pressurized irrigation systems, and adopting micro-irrigation which will support the development of high-value crops such as orange orchards and vegetables,” ADB said.
This project will also help farmers adopt micro-irrigated agriculture including high-value crops, it said. “It is expected to not only double farmer incomes but benefit about 838,000 people in 419 villages. The contractor under the DBO (design-build-operate) approach will be tasked to operate and maintain the system for 5 years after completion of construction,” ADB said further.