More than 4000 minor irrigation schemes will be constructed in 18 out of 19 districts in the state.
The World Bank today approved a US$ 250 million credit and loan to the West Bengal Accelerated Development of Minor Irrigation Project(ADMIP) for increasing agricultural production of small and marginal farmers. About 139,000 hectares (ha) of irrigated area are expected to be developed under the Project, benefitting an estimated 166,000 farm families.
West Bengal Accelerated Development of Minor Irrigation Project
Agriculture serves as the backbone of West Bengal’s rural economy. It accounts for about 20 percent of the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and provides employment to more than 55 percent of workers in the state. Agricultural growth over the past decade was on average about 3 percent per annum.
Maintaining this growth rate requires infrastructure support, crop diversification and market access. There is, however, very little scope for increasing the current cultivable area with more than 93 percent of landholders belonging to small and marginal farmer categories with land areas of less than one or two ha respectively.
“Irrigation will continue to be critical to increasing agricultural production, incomes, and rural livelihood. A recent World Bank study, ‘The Impact of Irrigation on Agriculture Productivity: Evidence from India,’ on the impact of irrigation on India’s agricultural productivity shows that irrigation has a strong and significant impact on land productivity, cropping intensities, and land prices,” said Mr. Roberto Zagha, World Bank Country Director for India. “The study makes the case for continuing support for investments in improving both access and quality of irrigation.”
Irrigation in West Bengal India
The absence of assured irrigation supplies inhibits the use of improved seeds, fertilizers, and other complementary inputs, which in turn affects production levels. In West Bengal, the average yield of paddy – which accounts for more than half the annual cultivated area in the state — is about 70 percent of the India average and less than half of what is obtained in more advanced agricultural states. An important reason behind the low productivity is that large cultivated areas are still rainfed and exposed to weather fluctuations.
The credit from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm, has a 25 year maturity, including 5 years grace period. The loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has a repayment period of 18 years, including 5 years grace period.