Farm level rainwater harvesting for dryland agriculture in India: Performance assessment and institutional and policy needs
The present study was conducted to assess the performance of farm ponds in 5 major rainfed states of India - Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnakata, Tamilnadu and Rajasthan, during 2009 and 2010. The data points included sites in the field, farmers, implementing agencies, NGOs, scientists and policy-makers. Rainwater harvested was either used for supplemental irrigation or recharging the open wells. Rainwater harvesting structures of different types and size (10x10x2.5 m, 30x30x3m, 45x45x3m; 82x26x3m) were constructed on individual farms, especially for smallholders. The farmer’s contribution to the cost of construction ranged from 10 to 80%. In many cases, farm level rainwater harvesting structures were highly useful for rainfed farming under climate change scenario and had a multiplier effect on farm income. In other situations, it was viewed as wastage of productive land. The farm ponds in Maharashtra resulted in significant increase in farm productivity (12 to 32 %), income and cropping intensity. The ponds were also used for aquaculture for 6-7 months, providing additional net income up to US$ 200 / pond/ annum. Similarly, in Andhra Pradesh farm pond water was useful for supplemental irrigation to mango tree plantation, vegetables and other crops and animals and resulted in significant increase in household income adding net returns of US$ 120 to 320 ha-1 annum-1. In spite of its great relevance, the acceptance and adoption of farm pond was not very high except in Maharashtra. The study analysed the factors responsible for success and failure. Though the customization of package and technology were important factors, the institutional mechanism, governance at grass root level and people’s participation played greater role in the success. Based on the lessons learnt, different policy and institutional options are proposed for promoting farm-level rainwater-harvesting for dryland agriculture.