Small and marginal farmers account for 86.2% of all farmers (126 million farmers) in India (10th agriculture census 2015-16), but own average land of just 0.6 hectares. Moreover, about 60% of total net sown area comes under rainfed lands thus having water poverty. India ranks first in rain-fed agriculture, both in area and value of produce. Over the years, farmers in rain-fed areas have been facing several adversities such as climate variability, crop failure, non-remunerative prices, etc.
To tackle the above problems Deshpande Foundation started Farm Pond program in 2014 from Alagwadi village, Navalgunda taluka, Dharwad. This program has now become a demand driven program under which different sizes of farm ponds are constructed on farmers demand and based on their needs.
From 2014 till date 4500 farm ponds constructed and more than 20,000 lives impacted by irrigating more than 15750 acres. Currently we are working mainly in 4 districts of Karnataka (Dharwad, Gadag, Haveri and Belgaum) and 2 districts of Telangana (Siddipet, Nalgonda). Theses region has suffered continuous drought for the last few years, resulting in severe rural distress.
Initiatives like the Farm Pond program has shifted the focus from traditional cultivation to cash crops and horticulture, as water harvesting structure provide farmers more choices if water is available.
Farmers with rain-fed lands are vulnerable and can cultivate only 1 crop in a year, provided the rainfall is timely and adequate. With prevailing drought, yields were low. However with proper storage of rainwater, farmers could irrigate their fields twice, thus significantly improving agricultural productivity and hence rural income. Farmers are not only getting 30-50% higher yield from the major crops but are also growing cash crops such as garlic, papaya, chilly and also short duration vegetables, improving food security and nutrition.
In coming years Deshpande Foundation looking forward to scale up farm pond initiatives by reaching 1 lakh farmers.
Benefits of farm pond: