Farm ponds hold answers to end water crisis and enhance rural livelihood

Farm ponds were found to have percolated water into the soil and recharged the groundwater table, thus facilitating water in nearby wells

Monsoon rains have records of being erratic, and any major fluctuation in the precipitation causes a serious impact on food production. India is an agriculture-dependent country and half of the agricultural lands are still dependent on monsoon rains, which makes it vulnerable to weather extremities. There have been examples of how farm ponds help farmers survive dryspells as well as droughts in different parts of India. India has a rich past of farm ponds being used for rainwater harvesting and cultivation activities. We need to create a robust network of farm ponds, which can help us address our water crisis problem.

Tamil Nadu government has recently announced a programme to build 500 ponds in the state. In 2019-20, farm ponds came to coconut farmers’ rescue following quite lower rainfall. Farm ponds were found to have percolated water into the soil and recharged the groundwater table, thus facilitating water in nearby wells. Many other states like Telangana, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh have come up with schemes that encourage farmers to build ponds on their land with a cost subsidy of up to 50-100 percent.

Farm ponds act as a protection in case of low rainfall and even allows cultivation during the non-rainy season.In short, farm ponds reduce dependency on rains and ensures uniform and timely water supply to crops, which means higher and better-quality output. Farm ponds can be of any area,even a small 20 square feet too works well.

Construction of farm ponds is faster, price-effective, easy to carry out and a reliable option.Farm ponds can be the most sustainable structures that can transform rural livelihood. The round-the-clock availabilitybrings confidence among farmers, which can lead to agriculture intensification and boost farm incomes.Farmers can rely on farm ponds in case of delays of long gaps in monsoon rains and also cultivate Rabi crops in winters. Moreover, farm pondsact as water recharge pointsfor groundwater replenishment.

If farm pond assures availability of water throughout the year, farmers can think of allied-agri activities to enhance their income. Horticulture is one option. Farmers can earn a net profit of Rs 1 lakh per acre annually.

This can be really beneficial for dryland areas, where exotic crops like dragon fruitand fig can be grown.

Constant availability of water helps in cattle-rearing as well. It can translate into additional income through animal products. Some farmers in Maharashtra have shown a way of earning through fishery in farm ponds when failed monsoons affected agriculture activities and damaged their livelihoods.

In Odisha too, some farmers who earlier had no option but to migrate in search of work have seen tremendous change. They could grow different crops, vegetables and fruits due to farm ponds and carry out fish farming. It led their income to grow and ensured sustainable livelihood, thus putting an end to annual migrations.

Besides state governments, the National Horticulture Board too offer funds for digging and lining the farm ponds,Farm pond construction fits into one of the objectives of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), which seeks to carry out public works relating to natural resources management to promote ecologically sustainable rural development.Hundreds of thousands of farm ponds have been constructed in the country under the MGNREGS, which contributed substantially to the efforts to recharge groundwater tables and improve irrigation facilities. Farm ponds have changed the lives of many farmers by enhancing their income and protecting them from the vagaries of weather.

Individual farmers, non-profits, corporates etc must make efforts to build farm ponds wherever it is possible. It can help to manage the water crisis to a larger extent.

Disclaimer: No Deccan Chronicle journalist was involved in creating this content. The group also takes no responsibility for this content.

( Source : Spotlight )
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