The Indian state of Jharkhand suffered an unprecedented drought recently, causing many rain-fed rivers and rivulets to dry up. Because of this, authorities felt it necessary to have sustainable water harvesting structures available to farmers. As a part of its water conservation efforts, the Centers for International Projects Trust in New Delhi collaborated with Ranchi’s Birsa Agricultural University to work on construction of small ponds (called “dobhas”) under its Sustainable Agriculture and Farmers’ Livelihood program. Once prevalent, these indigenous structures are helping farmers cope with the state’s water crisis.
Despite being endowed with natural and human capital, Jharkhand has among the highest levels of hunger in India, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute’s hunger index. The state also suffers from high incidences of poverty and malnutrition. Around 37 percent of the state’s population lives below poverty line. More than three-quarters of the population lives in rural areas. Close to 26 percent population of the state is tribal.
Although the average annual rainfall in the state is of around 1,200 mm, only a fifth of it is utilized. The mostly rocky terrain in the state limits soil water absorption, causing periodic droughts and limiting groundwater availability. The state’s 2010-11 economic survey indicated that surface water for agriculture was not sufficient because of inadequate storage facilities. Ninety percent of the state’s rainwater is wasted as untapped run-off due to poor management practices.
Agriculture and its challenges
Agriculture in Jharkhand is characterized by high dependence on nature, low productivity, less diversified cropping, inadequate irrigation, and dominance of small and marginal farmers. The periodic agricultural drought directly impacts the livelihood of more than 20 million farmers due to poor access to resources, inputs and lack of capacity to use modern farm production technologies and practices, such as sub-optimum quantities of pesticides which lead to pest attacks. Climate change and over-dependence on rain-fed agriculture has led to a vicious cycle of low productivity, low income and poor finances in last two decades. Jharkhand agriculture is largely rain-fed, with only 11 percent of the cultivated area under assured irrigation.
Published BY COLUMBIA WATER CENTER|MAY 24, 2017
link:This blog was orignally published on State of the Planet Website