Farmers in Rajasthan are stuck in poverty due to low farming incomes due to a lack of water for irrigation. This programme lends farmers money to buy a new drip irrigation system and teaches them how to use it. Higher crop yields result in higher incomes. Over five years, farmers pay back the money they were lent and the funds are then lent to a new farmer to buy a drip irrigation system. The programme offers a lot of hands on support. Drip irrigation is a simple system but hugely effective.
In Rajasthan, farmers currently use flood irrigation to grow crops. This is an inefficient use of water - leading to significantly lower crop yields. Furthermore, by watering the whole field, farmers need to spend a lot of time weeding. This work is typically left to women and girls. If there is not a sufficient income from farming, men are forced to move to the cities looking for work, leaving behind their families. Breaking up the family unit in this way is hugely detrimental to communities.
Drip irrigation involves a rubber tube running along the line of crops. At the base of each crop, a small hole is made in the rubber tube. This hole lets out just a few drops of water (depending on the crop). This ensures just enough water is needed and none is wasted. The soil between the crops is not watered so weeds struggle to survive. Not only does this significantly reduce the amount of water needed but it also reduces the amount of time a farmer needs to spend tending to the crops.
Loaning farmers funds to invest in a drip irrigation system will lift them out of poverty. As each farmer is lifted out of poverty, their children, especially girls, will be free to go to school - vital in transforming any community. As farmers incomes go up, they can repay their loans and neighbouring farmers will be able to take out a loan to invest in their own drip irrigation system living them out of poverty. The rotating nature of this programme will enable whole communities to benefit.