Rainfed Farming is complex, diverse and risk prone and is characterised by low levels of productivity and low input uses. The Government of India has accorded high priority to the holistic and sustainable development of rainfed areas through integrated watershed development approach. The key attributes of the watershed approach are conservation of rain water and optimisation of soil and water resources in a sustainable and cost-effective mode. Improved moisture management increases the productivity of improved seeds and fertiliser. So conservation and productivity enhancing measures become complementary.
A National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Area (NWDPRA) was launched in 1990-91 in 25 states and two UTs. The project was continued during Tenth Five Year Plan in 28 states inclusive of three newly created States and two UTs with the purpose of increasing agriculture productivity and production in rainfed areas. The guidelines for NWDPRA have been radically restructured by retaining the technical strength and incorporating community participation. The watershed development programme is now planned, implemented, monitored and maintained by watershed communities. During Ninth plan, an area of 27.66 lakh ha has been treated. Now the scheme of NWDPRA has been subsumed within the Macro Management of Agriculture scheme. The scheme is being continued for implementation during Tenth plan under the revised guidelines, with people's participation, covering more than 6000 micro-watersheds. It is estimated that an area of about 20 lakh ha would be developed during Tenth plan. In the first four years of Tenth Plan, an area of 1.59 million hectares has been developed at an expenditure of Rs.793.82 crore.
A Watershed Development Fund (WDF) has been established at NABARD with the objective of integrated watershed development in 100 priority districts of 18 States through participatory approach. The total corpus of WDF is Rs.200 crore. Under WDF, two-thirds of amount is given for loan based project and one-third of amount is given for grant based project in the State. A number of externally aided projects are also under implementation on watershed approach, which covers an area of about 1.5 lakh hectares annually.
Source: National Portal Content Management Team, Reviewed on: 07-01-2011