Watershed Management- Government Help

A watershed is defined as any spatial area from which rain or irrigation water is collected and drained through a common point.

more info...

Government help

Successive governments in the past have given emphasis to building large-scale irrigation systems, which have a downside of environmental and related social impacts. We therefore need to rethink our strategy of sustainable land and water development so that water resources are available equitably for agricultural development. Today, we must focus on micro-level water management for optimising food production. Creation of awareness at all levels is therefore the first step. Further, the watershed is a geographic hydrologic landscape unit. It has to be surveyed by civil engineers, land has to be developed by the watershed farmers on a contoured topographic setting, waterways have to be designed and marked on the ground and built in harmony with the slope of the land and farmers have to plant their crops and prepare the seed beds in well-leveled lands. Finally, tanks have to be dug at appropriate locations and inter-linked to achieve maximum water storage efficiency. Non-governmental organisations which have simpler and often less hierarchical structures are generally more successful in implementing watershed programs than the rigid government-led watershed development schemes. The basic premise of watershed technology is that water must be given enough time to seep into the soil and it must be stored at as near a point as feasible where the rain is received. This in actual operational terms means that we have to build a new development praxis. A bottom-up dispersed participatory farmer-driven approach for the development of watersheds will have to be adopted to make the farming community self-reliant.

Concerned at the potable water scarcity caused by the steep fall in groundwater levels, the Government of Andhra Pradesh has prepared an elaborate watershed development plan. It wants to take up 2000 watershed for development every year. The ICRISAT has been approached to provide training and exposure to the watershed committees in watershed technologies. Our institute in association with the MSSRF and several local organisations recently agreed to a phased programme of imparting training to watershed committee farm leaders of Ranga Reddy district in A.P. to upgrade their skills for rainwater management.

The sorghum-based food production systems have shown excellent resilience against E1-Nino and La-Nino, more soil and water have been conserved and a way for increasing economically-viable employment opportunities for labour-particularly women in an otherwise marooned rainfed agriculture setting has been charted by using watershed-based land and water management.

Government of India had launched a national development programme of rainfed agriculture on a watershed basis. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research pioneered the field-level implementation with state governments. Based on the experiences gained from 4,400 micro-watersheds and 47 model watersheds, it is summarized that unless rain water conservation, harvesting, recycling and efficient use become that focal point in watershed management research, it cannot create a significant impact on rainfed agriculture. Unless the rainfed farmer is given an alternative option to increase the net income and reduce risks of rainfed/dryland farming, he will not be motivated for change. Thus, water is the key to change.