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Tamil Nadu Gets $318 Million World Bank Loan for Irrigation Projects; over 500,000 Farmers to Benefit

The Government of India, the Government of Tamil Nadu and the World Bank  signed December 26 a $318 million loan agreement for the Tamil Nadu Irrigated Agriculture Modernization Project to promote climate resilient agriculture technologies, improve water management practices, and increase market opportunities for small and marginal farmers, says a release.

 About 500,000 farmers, of which majority are small and marginal, are expected to benefit from improved and modernized tank irrigation systems.

The project will rehabilitate and modernize about 4,800 irrigation tanks and 477 check dams, spread across 66 sub-basins, in delivering bulk water to irrigation systems.

A water-stressed state, Tamil Nadu is expected to continue to experience water shortages in future and modernizing irrigation tanks will improve availability of irrigation water for the farmers, making them less exposed to climatic hazards.  Pointing out the benefits of the project, Sameer Kumar Khare, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance said, “. More than 160,000 ha of currently partially irrigated lands will come into full irrigation under this project”..

The agreement for the project was signed by Sameer Kumar Khare, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, on behalf of the Government of India; S K Prabhakar, Principal Secretary, Public Works Department, on behalf of the Government of Tamil Nadu and John Blomquist, Program Leader and Acting Country Director, World Bank, India on behalf of the World Bank.

This project will help improve the efficiency of water used in farming, said John Blomquist, Program Leader and Acting Country Director, World Bank, India, adding that farmers can produce high value crops as well as crops that are resilient to the increasing threats of climate change. He said, “Such efforts will be a win-win for all, leading to better use of scarce water resources and raising household incomes of farmers”.

Another great benefit of this project is it will enable the farmers to shift from a mono crop paddy system to mixed cropping including high-value crops (fruits, vegetables, and spices), pulses, oilseeds, and millets.

The farmers will learn, by this project, new conversion technologies such as System of Rice Intensification (SRI) and Sustainable Sugar Initiative (SSI) which reduce average water usage by 35 percent and increase yields by 2 22 percent per ha. The project is expected to increase the yield of rice, maize, and pulses by 18–20 percent.

The project will also coordinate with other World Bank-supported projects in Tamil Nadu and at the national level, including the Tamil Nadu Rural Transformation Project, National Hydrology Project, and National Groundwater Improvement Project to ensure synergy and enhance long-term project impact.

The $318 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has a 5-year grace period, and a maturity of 19 years.

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