Regenerating natural resources and rural livelihoods in rainfed areas of India: A civil society consultation by WASSAN to discuss priorities for the twelfth five year plan

Rainfed AgricultureA civil society consultation was held on “Regenerating natural resources and rural livelihoods in rainfed areas of India” by WASSAN at Hyderabad in December 2010 to discuss priorities for the twelfth five year plan. The Planning Commission, Government of India has been steering the process of development in India by conceptualizing five year plans and had sought inputs from civil society organizations, activists groups, networks of CBOs / NGOs, donors and others for preparing an approach paper for twelfth plan.

The objective of the consultation workshop was to contribute to the process of defining broad contours of twelfth plan with a focus on rural livelihoods the thrust area being policy framework, funding support, institutional arrangements etc., by -

  • Consolidating the lessons from good practices in promoting and protecting rural livelihoods in the country, that could be integrated in twelfth five year plan.
  • Systematically articulating issues and concerns (bottlenecks) in promoting and protecting rural livelihoods, which could be addressed in the twelfth five year plan.

The focus of the discussions during these consultations was on the following dimensions of watershed development projects, rainfed agriculture, livestock, forestry, water/ irrigation, institutions & credit, food security and land rights & employment. It helped pool the experiences and concerns of various networks active on these issues and channel them towards the policy formulation processes in the country.

Background notes for the workshop

Future Search for Watershed Development Projects in India – Priorities for Policy and Practice – M V Ramachandrudu, WASSAN

This paper is an attempt to provide necessary support in presenting design inputs from voluntary organizations to give a shape to future watershed development projects in India. It articulates some of the issues and concerns (bottlenecks) in promoting and protecting rural livelihoods through watershed development projects. It identifies missing links in the current policy and practice of watershed development projects. It systematically consolidates the lessons from good practices in watershed approaches and identifies thrust areas, funding priorities, recommendations for future watershed development projects in India. Read more...

Rainfed Agriculture for the Hyderabad Consultation on Rural Livelihoods and the 12th Plan – P S Vijay Shankar, Samaj Pragati Sahayog, Bagli

The paper presents an agenda for the rainfed areas, which could form the basis of the agricultural policy in the 12th Five Year Plan. It would involve a review of ongoing programmes and their performance in the relevant sectors during the 11th Five Year Plan and an identification of important ongoing state-level initiatives, which could be upscaled at a national level. It also covers documentation of ongoing initiatives being implemented by non government agencies including civil society organizations, panchayats, people’s institutions like SHGs and the private sector actors, which are at a pilot stage but holds potential for upscaling.

An identification of the components of new programmes to be set in motion during the 12th Five Year Plan to revitalize rainfed agriculture such as national programme on soil fertility, millets, groundwater, decentralized foodgrain procurement; weather-based crop insurance etc., is suggested. Tentative ideas about financing such a plan – possible sources, actors and amounts to be leveraged from banks and financial institutions through the loan component are presented. Read more...

Importance of Inland Fisheries Promotion for Sustainable Livelihoods in Rainfed Regions of India -Neelkanth Mishra

This paper presents the recommendations for comprehensive policy that protects resource base and resources in rainfed area for promotion of fishery sector. It talks of developing national inland fishery policy for resource sustenance and promotion of fishery related livelihood apart from updation of the inland fishery policy of each state through a stakeholder based approach.

There is a need of shifting priority to bringing more water resources under fish production with equal importance to indigenous species, from just increasing production and productivity of major carps and exotic carps. Emphasis should be given to ecosystem protection, biodiversity and above all socio-economic benefit. Also, equal importance is to be given to capture, capture cum culture and culture fisheries. Proper market development support, financial support and value chain development support needs to be provided. Read more...

Discussion paper on System of Rice Intensification (SRI) - Policy and Program Priorities for 12th Year Plan - A Ravindra and S Bhagyalaxmi

The paper presents crisis points that policies related to rice production systems must take into consideration. The national initiatives on rice so far, the potential of SRI and the shifts that are necessary from the conventional agriculture extension system are presented. It talks of incentives for farmers to cushion the initial three years of personal experimentation and shift to SRI, and also, to get large numbers of farmers into SRI on an area approach.

As SRI responds well to manure and other such organic inputs, application of organic inputs into SRI can be incentivized. Dis-adoption trends in SRI are common, particularly in areas where the promoters have just depended on field demonstrations. It is important to work in a given area for at least three years focusedly so as to build necessary systems innovation capacities to enable a smooth shift towards SRI. The surface irrigation systems are too anarchical to enable any water management by farmers at the field level. SRI, when integrated with the irrigation system reforms, can give fantastic (irrigation) system level results in a limited time besides enhancing productivity.

It is important that the individual farmer centric extension approaches must lend their way to area and group based approaches (such as watershed development programs). The twin issues of adequate / complete investments, appropriate strategy and intensive handholding at the village level are crucial for SRI promotion. Read more...

An Alternative Approach to Drought and Drought Proofing - Suhas Paranjape and K.J. Joy

The paper presents a strategy for drought proofing through a three-phase programme for assuring livelihoods through regenerative use and equitable access. The first phase constitutes the main phase of watershed development, lasting for about three years and a one or two year preparatory period.

The second phase, lasting two to three years consolidates and continues the watershed development work, focusing on the larger terminal storages and a distribution system capable of delivering limited but assured quantities of water. In the third and phase lasting for another two to three years, the local system, now mainly completed, is allocated a share of external water from major/medium sources and finally makes livelihood assurance for all a real possibility. Read more...

Concept: Water Management under Revitalizing Rainfed Agriculture - Potential Pilots - Revitalizing Rainfed Agriculture Network (RRA)

The paper stresses the need on estimating productivity of water resources and rejuvenating the practices of mixed cropping or intercropping as one of the main components of water management under a programme that looks into revitalizing rainfed agriculture. Other productivity criteria such as water extracted per unit energy used or water extracted per unit of rainfed crops versus irrigated crops can also be introduced into mainstream productivity calculations. Water management in any area, rainfed or irrigated, should be in the form of a process and the next step in this direction is to begin the definition of the process through some key pilots. Read more...

Summary of discussions from the Pune Workshop - Water Management under Revitalizing Rainfed Agriculture in India -ACWADAM

The paper calls for preparing a typology at the national level for rainfed agriculture for revitalizing it. Some pilots can be implemented to revitalize rainfed farming in core irrigated areas to understand the importance of rainfed agriculture. Other pilots could be within the ‘dominantly’ rainfed regions. The pilots will include institutional, physical, policy level thinking and capacity building, in addition to building a solid knowledge and skill base around water resources in planning and implementation of rainfed farming programmes.

There is also a need to define the scale for the pilots and the geographies in which they can be rooted. Micro‐interventions should be portrayed in the right way, in order to overcome the misplaced rationale of “only large‐scale solutions will work”. Training and capacity building around water management in rainfed agriculture is also a must. Finally, water management in any area, rainfed or irrigated, should be in the form of a process and the next step in this direction is to begin the definition of the process through some key pilots. Read more...

Insuring small and marginal farmers against crop losses on a large scale: A note for Twelfth Five Year Plan - M Karthikeyan, DHAN Foundation

The note deals with Indian farmers, particularly rainfed farmers who have been facing partial or total crop losses frequently due to various controllable (like pests and diseases) and uncontrollable risks (like weather risks). Their traditional coping mechanisms for addressing these risks are not adequate and not available to all. Due to climate change these issues are expected to increase in severity and frequency.

Crop insurance as a solution to these issues has been in practice for long years. Indian crop insurance scenario has changed significantly in the recent past after private companies entered the scene with variety of weather insurance products. Even then the coverage is significantly very low and only less than 10 per cent of the farmers in India are covered with currently prevailing crop insurance products. The note addresses the following aspects related to crop insurance -

  • Why it is difficult to insure crop losses?
  • The main issues with existing area based and weather based crop insurance products;
  • Why farmers are not buying crop insurance voluntarily?
  • What are the prerequisites needed for an effective management of crop related risks? And;
  • What is needed in 12th Five Year Plan to make large number of small and marginal farmers benefit from crop insurance.



Post By: Amita Bhaduri