This week, Anand and I traveled to the south of South India, to Natham, a small town in Dindigul. We rode along with Shane, a representative of Hatsun Dairies, to a self-help group training center that he works with. Here, small farmers can learn hands-on about best practices for small-scale dairies, for everything ranging from calf rearing to fodder planting to vermiculture. Now we’ve added drip irrigation to the mix: we set up a small plot so that visitors can learn more about water-efficient irrigation as well. Shane says many of the families involved in self-help groups are landless or own very small holdings. They may only have a few cents of land to work with (a cent, or centime, is 1/100th of an acre), and most commercial drip irrigation just doesn’t scale down that small. Not only does our system work quite well at such sizes, it’s also affordable: the kinds of small loans offered by self-help and microfinance groups will easily cover the cost of a small system.
Anand showing a worker at the demonstration site how to attach drip tape laterals to the submain