Water is a critical and limiting factor in semiarid southern Rajasthan where the rainfed agriculture is predominant. Besides this, the rainfall variability and early or mid season droughts during crop season cause either poor performance of the rainfed crops or even failure of kharif crops. Smt. Kesar Devi of Kochariya village, Suwana tehsil, Bhilwara district was unable to earn enough money for her family due to frequent failure of crops due to drought.
Interventions of AICRPDA Centre, ARJIA
All India Coordinated Research Project for Dryland Agriculture (AICRPDA) Centre adopted Kochariya village in 2011 for demonstration of climate resilient technologies. During the bench mark and PRA survey and focused group discussions (FGDs), rainwater harvesting in farm pond for efficient utilization of rainwater was identified as a suitable intervention. Climate resilient technology to enhance productivity, income and livelihood of the farmers in the village were also prioritized.
Smt. Kesar Devi volunteered to adopt the farm pond technology. She constructed a pucca tank for rainwater harvesting in which the run off from the village was harvested and efficiently used as supplemental irrigation to cotton and managed mid-season drought. Further, she also came forward to adopt the same technology in her own field and constructed a farm pond with lining (kachcha) having capacity of 1242cu m (size: of 18 x 30 m top; 12 x 24 m bottom; 3 m depth with 1:1 side slope).
Efficient Use of Farm Pond Enhanced the Income
Before the intervention, Smt. Kesar Devi used to take up only mixed cropping of maize and blackgram during kharif and leaving the field fallow during rabi season. Even in the mixed cropping of maize and blackgram, mid season droughts used to affect the yields. It used to result poor yields and often failure also. Due to availability of water in the farm pond, Smt. Kesar Devi diversified the cropping pattern from maize and blackgram mixed cropping to improved intercropping systems of maize and black gram (2:2) and groundnut and sesame (6:2) during kharif. She also raised mustard and chickpea during the rabi season. Efficient use of farm pond water to kharif crops during dry spells and pre-sowing irrigation to mustard with efficient micro-irrigation method (sprinkler) made agriculture a profitable venture for her. It increased cropping intensity to 212 % from 100 % and the net returns increased up to Rs. 35,090/hectare from Rs. 15,090/ hectare. Smt. Kesar Devi, is now a successful woman farmer showing the path to other farmers to manage mid-season drought through farm pond technology.
Government of Rajasthan Recognized the Success
In recognition to Smt. Kesar Devi's achievement in Kochariya village, the Government of Rajasthan came forward to help the women farmers in the village for construction of another form pond in 1.5 hectare field. Now, Smt. Kesar Devi also motivates several farmers not only in her village but also adjoining villages to adopt the farm pond technology as a climate resilient technology provided by AICRPDA centre, Arjia.
(Source: AICRP for Dryland Agriculture Centre, Arjia, MPUAT, Bhilwara District, Rajasthan & NRM Division, ICAR)