Understanding the need to strengthen ecosystem services through natural resource management in dryland areas, ICRISAT in collaboration with Asian Paints Limited launched a project ‘Improved Livelihoods through Integrated Water Resources Management in Community Watershed in Medak’ at Bhanur village, Telangana, India, on 21 October.
“Untimely rains and land degradation have hit agricultural productivity hard. In recent years, we have suffered huge losses due to low yields. Many families from the village moved away in search of daily-wage jobs,” says Ms Motae Narasamma from Bhanur village. She cultivates sorghum, chickpea, paddy, maize, cotton, and vegetables.
Water availability for agriculture is fast declining in her village with increasing intra-sectoral demands, population pressure and changing food preferences. The surface and groundwater resources in the region have been at their lowest levels in the past two decades.“We need help in several areas; first on water management and thereafter on how to protect our crops,” Ms Narasamma told the ICRISAT team.
The initiative is aimed at increasing agricultural productivity by enhancing the impact of integrated watershed management programs. It is being taken up in six select villages in Telangana state. Over the next five years, the efforts will help enhance water availability (surface and groundwater), water productivity, incomes and livelihoods in the villages.
Ms Koran Lakshmamma from Ghanapur village has been growing sorghum, pigeonpea, maize, and vegetables for over three decades. She expects the project to increase productivity with its land, water and nutrient management interventions. “We look forward to new technologies from the scientists. We would like agriculture to be more profitable so that profits from it can go towards educating the young and healthcare for the aged in the families,” she adds.
Interacting with farmers, Dr Suhas P Wani, Director, ICRISAT Development Center, assured them that the use of latest technologies would recharge the village’s old dried-up wells, providing additional water for agriculture.
“Through this project, ICRISAT and partners will bring the latest technologies and science to the farmers’ fields. The project will adopt a participatory research for development approach. Our aim is to transform the villages into model villages, not only in the state but also in the entire country,” Dr Wani said. He explained how similar technologies were instrumental in transforming Kothapally village into a prosperous village and a beacon for science-based rural development. Two major factors that contributed to this development were: (i) increased cropping intensity using high value crops, including vegetables; and (ii) increased productivity of rainfed crops due to enhanced water availability.
Underlining the project’s unique opportunity, Mr Manish Choksi, President of Home Improvement, Supply Chain and IT, Asian Paints, said, “We want to return to the environment the water we take from it. The three pillars of the corporate social responsibility policy of our organization are education, health and water management. We wish to see the project become self-sustainable.”
Launching the project in Bhanur, Dr A Sharat, Joint Collector, Medak district, assured support from the district administration.
Mr D Venkateswarlu, Commissioner, Rural Development, Telangana, in his address to the villagers emphasized the need for water conservation and management at all levels. He urged farmers to choose appropriate crops to gain surplus yields. “There is a need for collective action. Let us work towards saving every drop of water even in our own homes and focus on efficient use of water,” he said.
More than 200 farmers including women from all six villages, senior officials from Asian Paints Limited and ICRISAT attended the launch.