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Non Conventional Irrigation Technology Project
Non Conventional Irrigation Technology Project (NITP) was established on 2060 B.S. to promote other than conventional irrigation technology/ies and techniques. Its aim was to provide irrigation facility both to the under irrigated areas as well as areas designated as non irrigable due to various reasons ranging from high development cost to non availability of sufficient quantity of water for conventional irrigation schemes. Apart from basic objective of providing irrigation to otherwise dry lands it aims to lessen social discrimination between 'have's" and "have not's". Rescuing poor from vicious cycle of poverty and uplifting women, disadvantaged and marginalized groups of people economically are the ultimate goal of this project. Understanding Non Conventional Irrigation System as synonym to micro irrigation is a mistake.
Overall Status of Irrigation & Scope for non-conventional irrigation schemes
Total agricultural land in Nepal is about 2640 thousand hectares. Out of which there is potential to develop irrigation facility to only 1766 thousand hectares either through surface irrigation or by utilizing ground water. Poor farmers of remaining 874 thousands hectare have no other option than to pray "rain god" for timely rain or irrigate their farmlands only with their sweat.
At present irrigation facility is provided to total 1195 thousand hectares of agricultural land. Out of 1195 hectares irrigation systems for 286 thousand hectares of land are developed by farmers themselves. Famous farmer managed traditional irrigation system in terai are exemplary where even irrigation expert can learn something.   
Total agricultural land area covered by irrigation systems is about 60% of the total agricultural land. Unfortunately only less than one third of this has year round irrigation which comes out to be nearly 400 thousands hectare. Thus irrigable land with year round irrigation facility is only about 15% of total agricultural land.
Based on present scenario it will not be an exaggeration to say that potential agricultural land area for non-conventional irrigation development is around 1000 thousand hectare which is summation of non irrigable agricultural land and irrigated land with seasonal irrigation only. Further, it is possible to increase irrigation capacity of present irrigation infrastructures drastically with adoption of efficient drips and sprinklers for water application.
In the midst of all hues and cries for large conventional projects non-conventional, in majority of cases micro irrigation, is forced to obscurity at least for the time being. The economical status of majority of people and average land holding per family has left us with little or no choice than to go for micro irrigation. Undeniably Non-conventional irrigation system is the future of Nepalese irrigation system.
Table 1: Different Organizations Involved in Micro Irrigation Development and their contribution

House Holds
Hectare per HH

Based on above data it can be said that ADB/N has invested in areas inhibited by farmers who are not poorest among the poor as indicated by average landholding per household. In this regard it is found that average land holding in the areas developed by I/NGOs is considerably low indicating majority of small farmers. This must be one of the reasons behind the success of their initiative.
Non Conventional Irrigation System: Nepalese Context
When either waters acquisition for irrigation or its application, if both of them or any one of them, is not conventional in nature than that is Non Conventional Irrigation System in our context. In other words any irrigation schemes which are different from conventional irrigation system are non conventional irrigation system. Hence, irrigation system which includes one or more than one of components listed below
1. Drip
2. Sprinkler
3. Treadle Pump
4. Low cost water storage (Thai jars, soil-cement tanks)
5. Rain water harvesting chiefly for irrigation 
are examples of non conventional irrigation in Nepalese context.
NITP has also taken up projects for restoring large ponds, which were traditionally used for irrigation, in Terai region to increase its efficiency and capacity and use it for the development of non conventional irrigation system.
Vision, Mission, Goal and Objective of NITP
To provide non conventional irrigation technology for the poor and disadvantaged people's non-irrigated land in the mountains, hills and terai of Nepal.
To launch an effective micro-irrigation service delivery mechanism with high-value crop production support for the poor and disadvantaged people, implemented as a joint effort of governmental organizations, CBOs, NGOs and the private sector in the country.
To provide technology, skills and services to the poor and disadvantaged people to increase production and productivity of high-value crops by providing micro-irrigation services.
To implement the micro-irrigation program for providing and effective micro-irrigation service delivery mechanism with high value crop production support for poverty alleviation.
Objective of the project are thus,
  1. Serve disadvantaged group
  2. Serve marginal land and farmers
  3. Provide irrigation to severely water deficit areas
  4. Help to achieve poverty reduction goal by promoting high value crops such as vegetable, herbs, fruits etc farming
Project Area
The project area covers whole of the Nepal. While Drip and Sprinkler irrigation schemes are promoted in hills (Chure and Mahabharat) treadle pumps are promoted in terai. Based on experiences gained so far it is observed that mid hill and inner terai are most potential area for non conventional irrigation development. But in no way development of non conventional irrigation project is restricted to these areas. There are projects using motor pumps for water extraction from wells and borings in the areas where treadle pumps are not feasible.
Present Status
At present there are 96 projects (1588 ha) under construction. It is expected that 16 of these projects will complete by the end of this fiscal year providing irrigation to additional 224 hectare of land. In the year 2063/064 there were 67 projects under construction in 36 districts. But, due to resource constraint only 12 were completed.
Already completed 30 projects in different districts can irrigate about 1821 ha. if utilized properly as per initially planned. This is year round irrigation which is desirable but not achieved in majority of other conventional surface irrigation systems that are in operation in Nepal.
Main activities of Coordinator office
Promotion and Motivation
  1. Seminars and Workshops in all development regions
  2. Trainings to technicians and farmers in coordination with DADO and NGOs working in the field
  3. Farmers field tour
  4. Documentary film prepared and aired through NTV
Construction of Model Projects
  1. Model projects in Kathmandu, Syangja, Lalitpur, Kavrepalanchowk, Surkhet and Palpa.
Other activities
  1. Preparation of project implementation guidelines, forms and formats
  2. Preparation and distribution of design manuals, handbooks for farmers, pamphlets, brochures etc.
  3. Research studies, Survey, Design, Estimates etc.
Donors Involvement
Till to date NITP itself has not received any kind of support from any international donor agency/ies. ADB was involved in preparing Policy and Implementation guidelines for NITP/Micro Irrigation. Project is already completed and TA Team has already submitted its final report. Recently Poverty Alleviation Fund has shown keen interest in activities of NITP and is willing to join hands to meet common goal.
Project selection
Priority is given to the areas inhabited by marginalized poor community with no potential for future development of surface irrigation. Similarly access to market or potential for future market development in near by areas is assessed. Although projects with only rain water as source are also taken up but it is better if there is a source even small one.
Cost of Drip and Sprinkler System

Irrigation Capacity
Retail Price (Without/With tank) NRs.
Simple Drip System
Very small
90 sqm (@3 anna)
4 Drip lines
Simple Drip System
125 sqm (@4 anna)
6 Drip lines
Simple Drip System
250 sqm (@8 anna)
8 Drip lines
Micro Sprinkler System
250 sqm (@8 anna)
4 risers
Mini Sprinkler System
250 sqm (@8 anna)
2 risers

Major problem faced by NITP is lack of budget. Budget allocated is minimal compared to the coverage of NITP. This in turn is responsible for dwindling enthusiasm among technicians for these small projects. Due to unavailability of sufficient budget; even for such small projects; it is taking more than anticipated time to complete these projects which is against what was envisaged initially. This scenario is totally against most strong argument in its favor that "being small it can be completed in very short period and benefit can be ripped immediately". 
Convinced with "Large is beautiful" credo personal from decision making levels down to field level staffs lend frivolous support for these small/micro irrigation schemes. In reality as their action shows these schemes are inconsequential for them.  
Another important aspect here with micro irrigation, which generally synonyms poor, is marauding of their products by rapacious middlemen.
Future course of NITP
There is no alternative to these types of projects. Whether it is under the umbrella of DoI or Agricultural Department or directly implemented by I/NGO with government's financial support this initiative must continue. Experience gained so far has already proved effectiveness these types of projects in fight against poverty. Hence, government most show full commitment and should continue its incessant support for NIT. 
Farmers are ready to adopt these non-conventional technologies and switch over to high value crop farming. However, there is need of proper guidance and training about these technologies, benefits, technological aspects and associated farming practices etc. Apart from agricultural aspects they need to be imparted with marketing knowledge i.e. dynamics of market, market forces, rapacious middlemen along with importance of collective saving, roles of the cooperatives etc. To achieve these non-governmental organizations can play very important role. So for the better future of non conventional irrigation and full achievement of its objective government agencies like DoI, DoA, Local government must seek support of non governmental organizations and move forward as a single unit.

[1] ADB/N: Agriculture Development Bank
[2] International Non Governmental Organizations
[3] Local Non Governmental Organizations
[4] Non Conventional Irrigation Technology Project

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