24) Consortium to expand watershed project in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh (27 April 2004)

The watershed development project, supported by the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), entered the expansion phase.
At the project's second annual review and planning workshop hosted by ICRISAT at Patancheru, the consortium partners decided to expand the project into new villages and also explore relationships with new partners, to replicate the positive impacts of the project in the first two years.

Speaking on behalf of ICRISAT Director General Dr William Dar, Deputy Director General Dr Dyno Keatinge said that partnership among diverse agencies is essential to reach the benefits of watershed development to a much larger group of farmers. The watershed project has the potential for providing livelihood security to the poor and marginalized in the villages.

Mr SN Batliwalla, Secretary of the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, said that the project imbibes the true Tata philosophy, which says that what comes from the people must go back to them many times over.

Dr YS Ramakrishna, Director of the Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA), said that effective management of natural resources in the semi-arid tropics is a complicated process, which cannot be achieved without partnership among expertise, disciplines and institutions. The consortium has successfully integrated these diverse needs.
The consortium has membership from national and international research institutions, government, universities, non-governmental organizations, farmer's groups and self-help groups.

In addition to ICRISAT, the other consortium partners are: the Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture, Hyderabad; the Central Arid Zone Research Institute, Jodhpur; the National Remote Sensing Agency, Hyderabad; the Maharana Pratap University for Agriculture and Technology, Udaipur; the Jawaharlal Nehru Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya, Indore; the state governments of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh; BAIF, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan; Samaj Pragati Sahayog, Dewas; and farmers' groups in all benchmark watershed villages.

The project, which started in 2002, is supported by a $ 1 million funding from the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and another million supporting funding from ICRISAT and other donors.

In the first two years, the project implemented watershed development in 13 villages in Guna and Dewas districts of Madhya Pradesh, and Bundi district of Rajasthan. As part of the scaling up process, the consortium partners plan to implement watershed development in more than 100 villages in the project districts over the next three years.

Further, the consortium partners will also work to propagate crop diversification through short-duration pigeonpea in five districts of eastern Rajasthan – Bundi, Kota, Jhalawar, Banswara, and a part of Sawai Madhavapur. The short duration pigeonpea, introduced in some of the project villages, had impressed the farmers since it was drought tolerant, matured in 120 days and provided higher returns.

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Pune; the Centre for Development Studies and Activities (CDSA), Pune; and the Vikram Sarabhai Centre for Development Interaction (VIKSAT), are the new partners in the consortium. CII will explore support from the industry for watershed development, and also scaling up of the concept to other areas. CDSA will advise the consortium partners on sociological and development planning aspects during project implementation. VIKSAT, which coordinates a similar consortium-based project in Gujarat, will help in cross-fertilization of new ideas between the consortia.

For further information, contact Dr SP Wani at s(dot)wani(at)cgiar(dot)org.

by ICRISAT. All rights reserved.