Friday, 20 July 2012

Project Ananta: Mega plan to stop desertification of Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh, India

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, July 19: The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)
has come out with a mega plan to prevent desertification of Anantapur
district and increase farm output through innovative technological
interventions including satellite imagery to revive the lost rivers.

Called Project Ananta, the ICAR’s Rs 500 crore plan also aims at
gradual weaning away of groundnut farmers to guar gum cultivation,
setting up sheep and fodder research stations and posting an IAS
official to exclusively deal with farm and allied activities.

Over a dozen ICAR scientists including its director-general Dr S
Ayyappan visited 30 villages in Anantapur and interacted with over
2000 farmers before preparing the Project Ananta. He said the report
was submitted to the State government. Governor ESL Narasimhan, who
participated in an ICAR meeting to chalk out action plan for Andhra
Pradesh and other States, asked officials to speedily translate the
project into reality.

Using satellite imagery data, scientists will find out the original
course of rivers, streams and other water bodies in Anantapur. Once
their course is identified, obstacles will be removed to ensure that
rain water flows into them. This will help not only in reviving the
dead water bodies, but also in the recharge of the ground water, said
Dr B Venkateswara Rao, director of the Central Research Institute for
Dryland Agriculture (Crida). One good rainfall will fill up the tanks.

As part of the Project, 15 of the 50 mandals in the district that have
been constantly witnessing failure of groundnut crop will be selected
for cultivation of guar gum. To begin with, about 1000 acres in
Tadipatri area will guar gum from Rajasthan. “There is acute shortage
of guar gum seeds. We are initially taking up its cultivation in a few
pockets,” he added.

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