Dr Ramesh Singh, principal scientist – soil and water conservation at the ICRISAT Development Center bagged the Bhagirath Samman Award by the Uttar Pradesh (UP) government in India. He received this award for his outstanding contribution to doubling of farmers income through natural resource management in eight locations across seven districts of UP, Bundelkhand region between 2018 and 2022. The award was presented to him on May 15, 2022.
He worked on an ICRISAT-led and executed project consortium supported by RKVY, the government of UP eight locations. The Bundelkhand region was chosen for this project as it is one of the very intense water-scarce regions, a hot spot of poverty, malnutrition, land degradation and out-migration. To address these issues, the government of UP had assigned an ambitious initiative to be implemented by an ICRISAT-led consortium across all seven districts of the Bundelkhand region.
A baseline survey covering 1,403 households from 20 villages was carried out across seven districts to capture demographic characteristics, land use, cropping system, water resources availability, livestock status, income sources and food consumption pattern along with soil and rainfall characterization. Between May 2017 and June 2018, ICRISAT worked towards rapport building with the community.
A large-scale rainwater harvesting (RWH) plan was developed and implemented in a phased manner in pilot sites from May 2019 onwards. This effort created about 2.5 million cubic meters (MCM) storage capacity. Besides, large-scale field bunding was developed on about 6,000 acres to enhance soil moisture availability and control land degradation.
This enhanced storage capacity and benefited more than 10,000 farming families across the project. All the pilot sites have been developed as benchmark sites for long term monitoring of a range of impact parameters (biophysical, hydrological, socio-economic) for realizing the potential of combining landscape and field-scale interventions in the dryland ecosystem. For ensuring the sustainability of impacts created under this initiative, local institutions were created, nurtured and empowered with the help of the department of agriculture.
In addition, the convergence of departmental schemes such as khet-talab, solar pump, SCSP, and mini kit of seeds of improved varieties have benefited more than 1,000 farming families.