Water is life. 76% of the total available groundwater is used in the agricultural sector. Groundwater is withdrawn through wells and bore wells. Due to traditional cropping pattern the agrarian community still cultivating high water-intensive and long duration crops. However, the quantum of extracted groundwater is not returned in any form and hence groundwater depletion problem is witnessed across the country. Looking to the situation at present and to prevent more deteriorating in future, the most effective solution is to develop water resources, recharging to balance between water demand and supply. Just rainwater harvesting is not the only solution, efficient and judicious use of water is also the need of the hour.
Looking at the need for major water used agriculture sector, there is a need to shift from high water-intensive crops to less water-intensive crops, long-duration crops to short-duration crops. Therefore, The Bajaj Foundation has the vision to develop water resources along with demand and supply-side water management interventions, through participatory approaches.
The scarcity of water has adversely affected the rural economy. To deal with big issues, the efforts to be needed to augment the natural resources and conservation of water which can be utilized for support watering to save the life of standing crops. To overcome the problem of groundwater depletion and absence of irrigation which has further led to dependence on Kharif crops, the surface runoff is harvested during the rains. The excess runoff in the form of surface storage and groundwater recharged is made available for support irrigation as well as to cultivate crops in the rabi season. Therefore, bringing awareness to capture surface runoff and promoting water use efficiency presumed as the best solution to protect and promote the livelihood of the farming community. The Bajaj Foundation has initiated several water harvesting measures such as the construction of Farm ponds, construction of check dams, Excavation/construction of percolation tanks, recharging of existing wells through diverting rainwater, Deepening and Widening of streams etc. with people’s participation
For Surface storage as well as to maximise groundwater recharge, The Bajaj Foundation has been promoting the construction of Check dams in River beds and Streams. Usually, river water goes waste, which is harvested by constructing barriers of cement concrete or masonry structures; as a result, the groundwater table in surrounding existing wells, as well as water table in general, is increased. Check dams play a balancing role for recharge and withdrawal of surface and groundwater. The Bajaj Foundation has initiated the construction of check dams in Deoli and Aarvi blocks of Wardha District. To create ownership among the farming community, they were involved in planning, identification of sites, execution of work and also contributed in cost of construction.
Since ancient time, people used to excavate percolation tanks, which also exist today. This reflects that water crisis is not a new problem of the current era, our ancestors have faced the same problems and also invented indigenous solutions like a talaab (pond) to overcome the same. Percolation Tank is a structure to impound rainwater flowing through a watershed, and a waste weir to dispose of the surplus flow above the storage capacity of the reservoir created. Other than river bed, creating surface storage and recharging groundwater in the wasteland, where sufficient catchment and runoff is available.
Wells are just meant to withdraw groundwater for irrigation. Balance of groundwater is not taking place hence recharging of well through diverting rainwater into wells has been proved simple, cost-effective and extremely useful water harvesting measures. When feeling thirsty, we take a glass of water and quench our thirst. Similarly, wells are the mouth of the earth, to full fill the thirst of the mother earth, rainwater is diverted into the existing wells. By digging a pit/ small pond near the well and diverting rainwater through pipe outlets for recharging the well is the most acceptable water conservation activity in the Deoli and Seloo block of the Wardha district.
The Bajaj Foundation team explained implementation strategies of the good recharge technique in the village Ratnapur. Suresh Raoji Khadse showed very keen interest for good recharge with 20 per cent his contribution. Our team members visited his well and decided to construct recharge pit near the well to collect surface runoff and divert it into well for recharge purpose. The location of this site is such that around 120000 litres surface runoff can be diverted into well to raise the water level in well. With this amount of water, this farmer can grow one-acre vegetables with drip irrigation system and improve his livelihood.
Farm Pond is one of the best systems for conserving and harvesting rainwater, especially for support irrigation in a dry spell and distress period. Rain Water harvesting through the excavation of Farm Pond is not new but, just to utilize an indigenous knowledge of farmers on the scientific manner to harvest surface runoff of the agricultural land. The water management interventions have the potential to evolve as a catalyst for enhancing the water use efficiency and thereby increasing agriculture economy of the water-stressed villages of Deoli, Arvi and Seloo block of Wardha District. The Bajaj Foundation has constructed Farm ponds of size 15 x 15 x 3 m of capacity to store 445 cum of water.
The silting problem in the river beds and streams has caused severe problems like floods, waterlogging, soil erosion etc. As a result, groundwater recharge is stopped and the duration of water flow has drastically reduced. Thus, the revival of the streams of the Wardha district is the need of the region. The Bajaj Foundation along with community has taken has initiated deepening and widening of existing streams as suggested by the community to overcome the above problems, to increase surface storage, to increase river flow and to recharge groundwater. The average width of 8 metres and 1.5-metre depth, 5000 metres deepening and widening in seven different streams has been done.
In percolation tanks and ponds, water is harvested as per the storage capacity of the structures; however excess runoff usually goes waste in the surrounding area through the waste weir. To minimise the wastage of the water and to maximise the surface storage as well as groundwater recharge, nearby percolation tank/ ponds are interlinked through the construction of canal/ water channel. These innovative interlinking of water harvesting measures in water harvesting structures like percolation tanks, small streams etc. has been proved extremely useful, cost-effective, feasible, environment friendly and could be an alternate of the river grid project at the micro-level. The Bajaj Foundation has initiated interlinking of percolation of tanks projects and four percolation tanks have been interlinked in Duttpur, Wardha.
It is one of the best efficient techniques of water management in all seasonal crops. The water is saved up to 60-75%. Farmers have accepted sprinkler irrigation systems as they can cultivate Rabi crops with available water. In flood irrigation systems, with available water, they could not cultivate Rabi crops. The Bajaj Foundation has supported 60 farmers in 25 villages of Wardha district.
Shaikh Abdul Majid of Vijaygopal village has 9 acres of land, out of which 6 acres are rain-fed and 3 acres are under irrigation. He has three brothers. Abdul Majid’s elder brother has a puncture repair shop in the village. Utmost his brother can earn Rs.1500 from the shop. Abdul Gani has a floor mill running on diesel from which he earns Rs.800 per month. In 3 acres of irrigated land, they have 5 sweet lemons, 5 oranges, 5 guavas, and 2 lemon trees. Along with horticulture they also take cotton, soybean, and jowar in Kharif and wheat, gram, and vegetables in Rabi season. They have 30 ft. deep well for irrigation in their field. He explains his observation “Every year water level is up to 10 ft. in May, but this year due to low rainfall water level is only up to 6 ft. in November. So he didn’t want to sow wheat and gram this year.
One day he came to know about The Bajaj Foundation’s farmers training in Wardha through village volunteer. He attended farmers’ training at Dattapur and came to know about the scheme of sprinkler set. He was already in the need of a sprinkler set to sow wheat. But he had no money for purchasing. His younger son, a 10th standard student gave him his saving from Sanchayani bank account in his school. At last, he was able to purchase a sprinkler set with the help of The Bajaj Foundation’s subsidy. He feels satisfaction. He has sown wheat and also wants to take brinjal and chillies for selling purpose with the help of drum kit drip irrigation system. He says it is possible to take wheat crop this year due to sprinkler set only. Abdul Ganibhai is very excited and happy; he says he earns 10 qt. of wheat every year with full water. But this year he will get 14 qt. of wheat due to sprinkler set only. Now his work of watering to the field has reduced also this much water will be sufficient for his wheat crop & vegetables. Extra 4 quintal wheat means Rs. 5000-Rs. 6000 more in less water due to this scheme of The Bajaj Foundation He is very happy and thankful to The Bajaj Foundation, Wardha for doing his help on right time.
Drip saves water up to 80%. As per our field observation, the farmer gets more production with less water. Farmer accepts drip in higher returning & higher water requirement crop i.e. input cost also decreases i.e. because of Insect & Pest attack reduce due to maintaining moisture content in root zone, less weeding cost, less irrigation labour cost.
Further detail of water-efficient micro-irrigation devices in Agriculture development programme.