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‘Bhungroo’ brings hope where dry spells prevail

M.S. Shanmugasundaram grows curry leaves, vegetables, jasmine and, if there is water, bananas on his eight-acre farm near Coimbatore.

Normally, there is rainfall for three months a year in his area making him dependent on open wells, borewells and the rainfall for water. However, Mr. Shanmugasundaram has also faced days when all the water sources on his land had gone almost dry when the northeast monsoon failed.

Hope came for Mr. Shanmugasundaram in the form of Firmenich, a Geneva-based perfumery, along with its joint venture partner Jasmine Concrete. They provided funds for setting up Bhungroo, a water-harvesting system, on his land in August last year.

Firmenich sources flowers, gum and essential oils from a number of farmers in the country through its suppliers and has joint ventures with some suppliers. It decided to set up the model, with technical inputs from Sustainable Green Initiatives Forum, on a trial basis on two farms.

The cost worked out to a minimum of ₹3.5 lakh per unit. Both the farms were near Coimbatore as most of the farmers who supply to Jasmine Concrete are located in this region.

Storing rainwater

According to John Suresh Kumar, responsible sourcing lead of Firmenich in south Asia, the model is to store rainwater underground, which can be recovered by pumping, and recharging the ground water system.

The company did a preliminary survey in and around Mr. Shanmugasundaram’s lands to identify an area with a gradient to harvest rain water.

“There were heavy rains thrice last September. The water from the farm flowed to the filter chamber through the channel and was harvested. I have used five lakh litre of water so far. There is improvement in the water level in the borewell nearby too,” Mr. Shanmugasundaram said.

Mr. Kumar adds that farmers can recover 70% of the water harvested in this system. Its main benefit is farmers can use the water collected in times of need and avoid crop loss. If a group of farmers, who have adjacent lands, come together and implement it, they will have collective benefit and the cost will work out lower.

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