In India, out of 142 million ha of arable lands, 60% (5.2
million ha) is rainfed. Karnataka has the second largest area
under rainfed agriculture after Rajasthan in the country.
Crop yields in dryland areas are quite low (1-1.5 t ha-1)
which are lower by two to five folds of the yield from researchers managed plots. Current rainwater use efficiency in dryland
agriculture varies between 35-45% and vast potential of rainfed
agriculture could be unlocked by using available scientific
technologies including improved cultivars. The vast opportunities
existing in dryland areas can be harnessed for improving rural
Government of Karnataka has taken an innovative approach through
Sujala-ICRISAT initiative is strongly based on building capacity
of the farmers rather than only disseminating new technologies.
The initiative which started with 13 watersheds in 2005 was
scaled-up to 47 watersheds for demonstrating productivity
enhancement measures. ICRISAT has developed stratified soil
sampling (20-25%) method to cover watershed on farmer's fields.
The learning's from the Sujala-ICRISAT initiative are:
The proposed initiative to be undertaken by the Government of Karnataka
is the path breaking approach for development and inclusive growth through
enhanced productivity in dryland agriculture.
yield gap analysis undertaken by ICRISAT revealed that
large yield gap exists for all the major rainfed crops
grown in these districts of Karnataka and there is a
potential of increasing the productivity by 2 to 3 folds
using available technologies in the farmers fields.
entry point activities enhanced the capacity of the
farmers to undertake sampling by conducting the Gram
sabhas and representative soil samples for 13 nucleus
watersheds comprising 410 farmers fields were collected
by the farmers.
||Karnataka soils are not only thirsty are also hungry
as 50-90% of the farmers fields are deficient in sulphur,
zinc and boron.
||Soil deficiency results revealed that in the targeted
7 districts, there is no widespread deficiency of potassium,
however, wide spread deficiency of nitrogen (31 to 81%),
phosphorus (31 to 67%) and available sulfur (79 to 93%),
available boron (39 to 91%) and available zinc (32 to
80%) is recorded.
||Farmers participatory action research are showed
increased crop yields upto 345% with sunflower, 230%
with ragi, 240% with groundnut, 150% maize, 116% soybean
and 27% sorghum.
Scaling-up initiative results farmers revealed up to
58% increased crop yields even during the unfavorable
year like 2008.
||Farmers selected improved varieties based on the
performance in their fields of different crops such
as Ragi, Groundnut, hybrids of maize, and sunflower.
Along with improved cultivars, farmers also evaluated
suitable land and water management practices to conserve
rainwater in the soil.
The economic benefits because of improved management
practices in case of grain crops vary from Rs. 6300/-
per ha in case of finger millet (ragi) to Rs. 21000/-
per ha in case of sunflower.