National Mission on Micro Irrigation (NMMI) : Will It Bring Water Or Tears?

will-it-bring-water-or-testOn the availability of water hinges India’s food security. The Centrally sponsored National Mission on Micro Irrigation (NMMI)  was launched in 2006 during the Xth Plan for implementing drip and sprinkler irrigation in the country. However, NMMI was launched as a Mission from June 2010. NMMI would boost convergence of micro irrigation activities under major Government programmes such as National Food Security Mission (NFSM), Integrated Scheme of Oilseeds, Pulses, Oil palm  and Maize (ISOPOM), Technology Mission on Cotton (TMC) etc. for increasing water use efficiency, crop productivity and farmers income. The new guidelines would enhance water use efficiency, productivity in crops, and provide answer to water salinity and water logging issues. NMMI has three components :

  1.     Area coverage under Micro Irrigation
  2.     Transfer of Technology through Demonstrations
  3.     Human Resource Development through training, awareness programmes, exhibitions, publications and quality control.

Mission Objectives
The main objectives of NMMI are as follows :-

  1.     To increase the area under Micro Irrigation through improved technologies.
  2.     To enhance the water use efficiency in the country. To increase the productivity of crops and farmers‘ income.
  3.     To establish convergence and synergy among on-going Government programme.
  4.     To promote, develop and disseminate Micro Irrigation Technology for Agriculture/Horticulture development with modern scientific knowledge.
  5.     To create employment opportunities for skilled and unskilled person especially unemployed youth.


  1.     Most appropriate irrigation system will be provided, whether drip or sprinkler, depending upon the crop and agro-climatic conditions, duly ensuring least cost burden to the farmers. (Annexure-I)
  2.     Supply of good quality system to the farmers with BIS mark will be ensured through a strict quality enforcement mechanism.
  3.     Capacity building of farmers and field functionaries will be taken up through training and demonstrations with the active participation of the State Agricultural Universities (SAUs), Precision Farming Development Centres (PFDCs) and the Industry.
  4.     A strong coordination mechanism will be put in place at the State and District levels for proper dovetailing of schemes involving land development and water management.
  5.     Easy flow of credit to the farmers will be ensured through the Financial institutions and Banks by their active involvement in Committees responsible for administering the scheme.
  6.     Information and Communication Technology (ICT) will be deployed extensively for ensuring transparency in the implementation process and effective monitoring of the Mission programme.

Pattern of Assistance

  1.     Expenditure on the implementation of NMMI Scheme will be shared in the ratio of 40:30:30 between Central Government, State Government and the beneficiary for all categories of farmers. Hence, for installation of the MI system, subsidy will be limited to 70 per cent of the indicative cost or actual expenditure incurred which ever is less.
  2.     Assistance will be limited to five hectares per beneficiary. Those beneficiaries who have already availed subsidy benefits earlier will also be entitled to avail subsidy for additional area subject to the maximum ceiling of 5 ha after a period of 10 years (longevity of the equipment).
  3.     The land holding of a beneficiary to be covered under Drip/sprinkler irrigation system could be located in one contiguous area or at different locations, for which financial assistance would be admissible with overall ceiling of 5 ha.
  4.     Cooperative Societies/Self Help Groups/Incorporated Companies)/ Panchayati Raj Institutions/NGOs /Trusts/Growers‘ Association will be entitled to avail financial assistance on behalf of their members. In such cases, the individual beneficiary will receive financial assistance only through the respective organizations with a maximum limit of 5 ha per beneficiary.
  5.     The beneficiaries/Institutions that have opted for contract farming or taken land on lease are also eligible for obtaining financial assistance under the National Mission on Micro Irrigation. However, to become eligible, the beneficiaries/institutions shall have to produce lease agreement for a minimum period of ten years from the date of approval of application by the Micro Irrigation Implementing Agency.
  6.     Assistance for demonstration of Micro Irrigation Technology will be @ 75% of the system cost for a maximum area of 0.5 ha per beneficiary and will be met entirely by the Central Government.
  7.     Micro Irrigation demonstration will be taken up on farmers‘ field and also on farms belonging to State/Central Governments, State Agricultural Universities (SAUs), ICAR Institutes, Non-Government Organizations (NGOs)/ Trusts.

Problems and Challenges
As pointed out  not too long ago in a Times of India report,  “It is a tragedy that should arouse us all to fury. In Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra, farmers have parched fields while dam reservoirs are full… The consequences for the poorest will be severe…To worsen matters, these farmers will be blamed for their own suffering. The Government – both at the State and Centre – will call them irresponsible for sucking ground water dry. But do farmers have a choice? Large dams exist but where is the last mile connectivity to their fields? Maharashtra has the largest number of dams in India – an unbelievable 1,845. Yet 97 per cent of its arable land has zero irrigation. Andhra Pradesh has 334 large dams and Karnataka another 236. Would someone explain? Left to their fate, farmers depend on private sources such as wells. Wells have to be sunk deeper and deeper as the water table recedes. It is falling 4 cm annually in Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana. In Telangana villages, it costs . 50,000 to bore one well with no assurance of finding water. Sometimes a well is good for only one season.
The Centre has a “national mission” (nothing less) for micro irrigation, which subsidises installation of drip irrigation tubes and pump on a farmer’s field. Micro irrigation uses small devices such as sprinklers, drips and sprays. It’s a great idea except for two flaws. The pump needs electricity to run. The farmer must have some water. Often both are missing. Except in Gujarat, it is a rare Indian village that gets assured power. Diesel is scarce and getting more expensive. Farmers without access to any source have no use for drip irrigation or power. What is the solution? Planning Commission says pricing water is the answer. The assumption is that farmers are exploiting a free resource which will stop once they are made to pay. …Ultimately, use of ground water is self-limiting. The day is not far when farmers will stop digging wells because it is too expensive to pump the water from great depths or its quality is unsuitable. What then? Will State after State simply declare a drought or will we wake up to the crisis of water distribution? Several million frustrated farmer families will be affected. As usual, the Government needs a reality check.”


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