Frequent episodes of drought can have a devastating impact on agriculture in affected regions. To reduce the impacts of drought, we need a sustainable agricultural system that uses water optimally and reduces expensive and environmentally challenging inputs such as fertilizer and pesticides.
Farm Pond is one such program initiated in 2013 by the Deshpande Foundation (DF) in association with Ratan Tata Trust. The Farm Pond program has triggered a grassroots‐level movement for sustainable agriculture. It helps farmers engage in sustainable agricultural practices involving rainwater conservation and harvesting. So far, it has helped more than 1750 farmers by creating ponds for each of them and has irrigated around 6384 acres of land. Overall, the initiative has impacted 9000 lives.
This program has been especially helpful in facilitating irrigation in drought-prone areas with erratic rainfall. By improving access to water, farmers can now cultivate more than one crop a year, thereby increasing their revenue by 50 percent. These ponds are capable of supporting four crops of pulses and papaya in a year.
To DF, the Farm Pond program has involved transforming the mindsets of farmers towards accepting the program. Initially, farmers had to be convinced about the potential benefits that farm ponds could offer them during droughts. Today, farm ponds have become popular, as they prove effective in ensuring abundant harvests across all seasons. Farmers increasingly approach DF with requests for new farm ponds. This program has made a positive impact on the farming community and has given hope to regions where similar drought conditions exist.
So far, a total of 600 ponds have been constructed in Navalgund, a perennially drought-hit taluk in Dharwad district.