Harvesting hope in parched lands

As the summer heat bakes the earth brown in Alagawadi village in Dharwad district, farmer Shrishail Angadi is not a worried man this year. He has suffered and survived through 3 consecutive droughts but today he proudly stands beside his newly constructed pond of size 100x100x12 ft. Even considering a loss of 25% due to infiltration before saturation, evaporation and the slope gradient, the pond can hold 35.6 million liters of water. This amount of water can provide assured irrigation for 5 acres of his rain-fed land, allowing him to cultivate 3-4 crops in 2017, multiplying his income by 3-fold.

As the Indian Met Department promises a good monsoon this year, Shrishail can barely wait.

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The farm pond initiative has achieved self-sustainability in less than 2 years of its inception. The farmer gets the pond constructed at 50% of the market cost in 25% less time due to the unique cost-sharing model followed. Farmers recover their investment within the 1st year and the sight of good harvests brings delight to the whole village. This has created a ready pipeline of farmers who are willing to part with their cultivable land to construct ponds. The Foundation insists on at least 50 farmers from a village to ensure cost-efficiency and also to generate the area-saturation effect.

Technically, the construction is robust. Carefully selected pond sites, inlet and outlet valves ensure the pond receives maximum surface run-off, with the excess water being drained towards cultivated areas. Silt traps collect nutrient-rich soil, preventing their deposition on the pond bed. The Foundation’s trained and efficient staff provides end-to-end support to the farmers: site selection and layout, construction, maintenance and water usage advice. Having invested in its construction and mindful of the returns, farmers are all ears.

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Farmer Praveen Sherewad with his ready-to-harvest Papaya crop

Shrishail hopes to achieve the yield of farmer Praveen Sherewad from Ballarwad village in the same taluk. Praveen earned Rs.15 lakh from his 10 acre farm in 2016, growing high value crops like papaya, watermelon, garlic and vegetables. Neighbouring farmers are also proud of their ability to cultivate 3-4 crops in a year, unheard of in arid and semi-arid rain-fed lands. The critical crop-saving irrigation from harvested water has multiplied their income and diversified their crops and nutrition base.

Having gained traction in the rain-fed areas of Dharwad district of Karnataka, the initiative has expanded to Siddipet and Nalgonda taluks of Telangana, harvesting hope in parched lands.

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