National award for Watershed dept

National award for Watershed dept

Recognition for efforts to better farmers lives under Sujala project in Kolar district

The project is getting the award for the second time. The recognition of the achievement is the culmination of the efforts of Madderi-Mallandahalli Sujala Watershed Association of Vemagal hobli in the taluk.

The successful completion of the project has thrown open new avenues in farming in 7,695 hectares of land spread over 27 villages of eight Gram Panchayats in the taluk.
It has provided access for taking up alternative cropping for the farmers of ten minor watershed areas identified in the command area of the Palar left bank.

Cropping pattern

The farmers of the area, who hitherto were accustomed to growing traditional crop such as ragi, have now come forward to take up horticultural crops like chikku and mango.

With the realisation of importance of wormicompost, there has been a considerable decline in the use of fertilisers. The steps taken under the project for recharging of the borewells and open wells, construction of check dams and water percolation structures, conservation of soil fertility, agroforestry, horticulture and minimal use of water have yielded the desired results.

The pertinent point to be noted in this context is that with a view to ensure gender equality, crucial role was provided to  90 women self help groups. Revolving fund to the tune of Rs 75,000 has been distributed to each of such self help groups, so far.

The work on the Rs 3.51 crore project, aided by World Bank, commenced on February 4, 2004. District Watershed Department and Myrada supported the successful implementation of the project. Antrix Corporation, led by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had evaluated the project.

As many as 246 borewells have been recharged under the project. The groundwater which was available at a depth of 260 meters is now available at 230 meters, thanks to percolation tanks constructed in 36 hectares of land. The migration of farmers in search of work has been brought down by 48 pc as result of satellite and radio based programmes, training for self help groups and such other initiatives taken up with community participation.

Farmers are now evincing interest in environment-friendly organic farming and shelving fertiliser-based farming.

Altered mindset

The farmers have graduated into multicropping pattern from the earlier moncropping system. The change in the mindset has been attributed to the training imparted by “Jalamithra,” a group of persons trained in on environment and watershed development.
As many as 496 farmers are into sericulture in an extent of 388 acres and selling the produce at Shidlaghatta and Kolar markets. They are earning annual income of Rs 30,000 per acre.

“As a result of the project, the farming activity has gone up by 25 pc. Income has increased by 20 pc owing to spur in milk production. Groundwater level has increased by four meters and bird population has also gone up. In all, farmers, totally dependent on agriculture for livelihood, are now a happy lot. All these are the outcome of Sujala programme,” informed officers of District Watershed Department.

The award will be conferred on the Department at a function scheduled to be held on September 24 at New Delhi.

Project outcome

*  Rs.3.51 crore World Bank funded project launched on Feb 4, 2004

*  Antrix Corporation, led by ISRO evaluated the project

* 246 borewells recharged; Groundwater level up by four meters

*  Migration of farmers in search of jobs reduced by 48 pc

*  Farmers veering towards organic and multicropping farming