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Govt. Schemes & Services :: NADP - 2007-08

NADP Projects Implemented by Tamil Nadu Agricultural University

Year 2007-08



Contact Address

Soil and Water Conservation
TamilNadu Agricultural University
Coimbatore – 641003

  • Dryland Development

The inherent food habit of the people in these areas with fodder security for their livestock combined with low income made these minor millets as staple food and non replaceable crops. However, the constraints in the production system are due to low or erratic distribution of rainfall coupled with frequent droughts. With the result, crops often fail with low or no yields making the farmers to be in very poor living conditions. The constraints are summarized as given below:

  • Erratic distribution of rainfall with recurring droughts and crop failures
  • Poor soil moisture regime in critical stages of crop growth and poor soil fertility.
  • Growing of long duration traditional varieties with low yields.
  • Lack of knowledge on high yielding varieties, seed treatment and balanced nutrient application
  • Non adoption of scientific cultivation practices (Line sowing / seed drill, improper input use etc.)
  • Non - adoption of machinery for field operation and value addition.
  • Poor resource base of farmers.

Currently, the production and productivity of dry land crops decline due to non- scientific cultivation practices, erratic distribution of rainfall and poor economic condition of the dry land farmers. The major dry land crops under this category includes millets (sorghum, fodder maize, pearl millet, finger millet, minor millets), fodder crops (forage legumes, cereal fodder, forage grass), pulses (black gram, green gram, cowpea, horse gram, dew gram etc) and oilseeds (groundnut, castor, sesamum and sunflower). As the water becomes the main constraint in the dry lands, the usage of input has become marginalized. Therefore, the potential yield of the above crops could not be realized. Small millets are important food crops of people in tribal hilly areas and less productive small farmers. They are the traditional crops, agronomically more adapted to impoverished soils with the striking features of resilience and ability to adjust to different agro-climates in terms of soil, rainfall and weather parameters. These crops are also the main source of fodder for cattle. Under this group ragi, samai and varagu are the three main crops together occupying an area of around 3.2 m ha, accounting for nearly 13 per cent of the area under coarse cereals. The annual production is 3.0 m tonnes accounting for nearly 15 per cent of the total production. They are ideal for early, normal and even late sowing conditions. The broadening of varietal base by evolving varieties of maturity periods has imparted further stability to their production. Earliness and photo-insensitivity are the two prime factors that have given flexibility to these crops making them suitable for contingency planning. 

Rainwater harvesting and recycling for supplemental irrigation is the basic need for increasing agricultural productivity in drylands. It also enhances the use of other agricultural inputs/ technologies to a higher level by providing improved soil moisture regime during critical stages of crop growth. Farm ponds are considered to be the suitable structure to store excess rain water from dryland farm plots and to store it sufficiently for a long time (say 3 to 4 months) so as to give supplemental irrigation during critical stage of crop growth at times of failure or non – receipt of rainfall . This technique should be given prime importance particularly in the present content of erratic distribution of rainfall dryland eco-system. 

As the plastic lining films, technologies have given in recent years, it is important to identify and develop a durable plastic lining materials suited for different soils and depth of storages. The films are available in LDPE, HDPE, PVC, EPDM (Ethylene propylene Diane Monomer) and CSPE (Chlorsulfonated polythene). The laying technologies are fine tuned and model scale experiments in farmer’s fields with dryland horticultural systems revealed that there is a potential scope to use this lining technology for effective water storage in entire crop season and could be used for supplemental irrigation. As the power is the constraint in dry lands, the supplemental irrigation is possible through portable sprinkler system during critical stages of crop growth.

Raising the level of nutritional, standard of living and improvement of public health are the primary duties of the state. In recent years, many components in small millets with biological properties for disease prevention and health promotion have been discovered. These phytonutrients could be helpful in the prevention of disease like cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetics. Some of the phytonutrients act as antioxidants and they help in prevention of lung cancer and reduce the risk of death from coronary heart diseases. Often these crops are confined to hill slopes, undulating fields and poor soils, yet providing assured harvest at a reasonable level under marginal cultivation to resource poor farmers. Framers are using local land races which are hardy but low in productivity and longer in duration. Produce is mostly consumed at home or village level. As a result, the true value of the crop has not been appreciated. Marketing channels are very poorly developed.  Hence this project is proposed to promote dryland crops with proper technological interventions using cluster approach of small and marginal farmers.

In nutshell, better moisture conservation practices and standardization of farm ponds, good seeds and market linkages for enhanced income from dryland crops will be the major interventions of the project.

Project Strategy

a. Project Area
Nine districts viz., Salem, Namakkal, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri, Perambalur (Ariyalur), Ramnad, Villupuram, Coimbatore and Dindigul will be selected for the project. In each district four major dry farming blocks except Salem (8 blocks) will be covered. In total 40 blocks with an area of 6000 ha @ 150 ha / block will be implemented.

b. Cluster approach
Small and marginal farmers will be the major beneficiaries. A minimum of twenty five farmers will constitute one cluster in a village. The selection of 25 farmers as cluster may be from one revenue village to the extent possible. If not from two neighbouring villages but not in a scattered manner. The cluster approach was adopted for operational conveniences and better logistics and for processing of the produce and marketing linkages.

c. Agencies Involved

  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Agricultural Engineering
  • TNAU (Technical Support and Training)



Implementing Agency

Selection of beneficiaries in clusters

Dept. of Agriculture

Input distribution

Dept. of Agriculture

Moisture conservation measures and  farm ponds with supplementary irrigation

Dept. of Agricultural Engineering

Mechanization (Sowing to harvest)

Dept. of Agricultural Engineering

Post harvest and value addition (Training)


Overall Technological Support and training


Participatory research


Monitoring / mid term evaluation and corrective measures

TNAU and Dept. of Agriculture / Agrl. Engineering

d. Project Goals

  • To popularize high yielding, nutritive minor millets, fodder crops and other profitable dryland crops
  • To enhance the crop productivity per unit input applied and improve soil health in dry lands
  • To conserve soil moisture through rainwater harvesting
  • To make awareness on farm mechanization

e. Technological interventions

  • Popularization of high yielding varieties
  • Crop management technologies
  • Moisture conservation and supplemental irrigation
  • Harvest, post harvest and value addition (use of machinery)

f. Operational process

  • The Joint Director of Agriculture in each district will scrutinize the list of farmers selected by ADAs at block level. After finalization of the beneficiary list in each block, a copy has to be sent to the concerned SE / EE / AE (AED), TNAU and Executive Director (TAWDEVA).
  • Seed requirement for each crops in each block based on the area has to be sent to TNAU before 26th April, 2008 for the timely supply.
  • TNAU will multiply and supply the required seed materials of the high yielding varieties to each block.
  • Site selection for moisture conservation and the farm ponds will be done by AED in consultation with TNAU and block level officials of the concerned blocks.
  • The detailed technological packages on various project components like cultivation practices, moisture conservation practices, use of farm implements, post harvest and value addition will be printed in Tamil and supplied to each beneficiaries by TNAU.
  • Machineries (chisel plough, broad bed former, basin lister, seed drill, mini combine harvester, millet mill) will be purchased by the progressive farmers / Agriclinic / SHGs selected by the Dept. of Agriculture and the same will be utilized by other farmers on custom hiring basis. For quality and procurement of Implement TNAU shall be consulted.
  • The technological pack – up for plastic lining of farm ponds will be provided by TNAU and the requirement of sealing machines shall be informed in advance to TNAU for timely supply.
  • Since the timely sowing is more important in drylands, priority should be given to keep all the inputs and moisture conservation implements by identifying suitable progressive farmers / SHGs before the end of May, 2008 for SWM and before September for NEM by DOA.
  • Compartmental bunding and farm pond works shall be completed before the start of the sowing season (May, 2008 for SWM and September for NEM) by AED. 
  • Training on management technologies, soil and water conservation practices, plastic lining and farm mechanization including post harvest and value addition will be done by TNAU before July, 2008 for farmers and officials.  
  • Participatory research on pre-release cultures of millet crops and to fine tune the various soil and crop management technologies will be undertaken by the TNAU project team in the selected project areas.
  • A joint meet involving field functionaries of implemental agencies to discuss the various day to day field problems to improve the quality of the project will be done once in a month.
  • A Co-ordination committee shall be constituted with the following officers

Director (CARDS), TNAU                        : Nodal officer
Director of Agriculture                             : Member
Chief Engineer (Agrl.Engineering)            : Member 
Dean (AEC & RI), TNAU                         : Member
Director (CPBG), TNAU                          : Member
Director (CSCMS), TNAU                        : Member

The committee shall meet periodically to discuss and issue guidelines whenever field problem arises while implementing the program in each district. JDA / DDA / SE / EE (AED) may send proposals to this committee on issues related to implementation of the programme for mid course correction or for any clarification and guidelines.



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