Eyeing economic gains through ecological work, non-profit organisation Pradan, along with Chhattisgarh government, has launched a watershed project in the state to enhance the income of 1 lakh small and marginal farmers, of whom over 40 per cent belong to Scheduled Tribes.
A watershed is a chunk of a land that drains out at a common point. The watershed development approach takes a comprehensive account of the people, land, water and forest resources in that area and makes planned interventions.
According to Pradan, the watershed project in the state will lead to year-round food security for about 76 per cent of the families and an increase in earning in the range of Rs 15,000-25,000 per annum.
For the project, a consortium of 13 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) will facilitate land and water treatment measures in 26 blocks of 12 districts in Chhattisgarh, that will lead to improvement in the cropping intensity in about 3,50,000 hectare of land.
The project was launched in partnership with the Chhattisgarh government, Bharat Rural Livelihoods Foundation and Axis Bank Foundation.
The focus is on initiating a community-led mechanism to enhance the productivity of natural resources to meet demands for food, fodder and fuel wood within the watershed in a sustainable manner.
Pradan Executive Director Narendranath Damodaran said the central and eastern Indian plateau region is home to about 70 per cent of the tribal population in rural India.
Despite being a high rainfall region, it remains unfit for agriculture because of the high run-off rate of rainwater, resulting from hilly terrain, that takes away the fertile soil.
“Unproductive land combined with lack of irrigation infrastructure makes farming highly non-remunerative for tribal communities. Thus, investment in improving the productivity of land and water resources is a necessary intervention in this region,” Damodaran told PTI.
He further noted that Pradan has developed a package of technologies collectively termed Integrated Natural Resource Management (INRM), which holds the potential to provide sustained and enhanced income to farmers.
For the Chhattisgarh watershed project, Pradan will set up a project implementation and management team to facilitate support to Gram Panchayats to mobilise the communities, prepare detailed project reports and technical support for on-field implementation.
It will also provide capacity building and technical support inputs for Block/Panchayat MGNREGA functionaries as well as help CSOs in coordinating with MGNREGA cells at different levels.
In the year 2000, Pradan had collaborated with NABARD for a watershed development project in Tyma Panchayat in Gola Block of Ramgarh district, Jharkhand.