|Demand of the question |
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. How farm ponds can help Indian farmers? Methods to resolve agricultural issues in India.
Conclusion. Way forward.
With an increased variability of monsoons and rapidly depleting groundwater tables, large parts of India are reeling under water stress. A number of peninsular regions like Bundelkhand, Vidarbha and Marathwada have been facing recurring drought-like situations. There is need to implement innovative water management measures, particularly the rainwater harvesting. Farm ponds can be a cost-effective solution and can transform rural livelihoods.
How farm ponds can benefit Indian agriculture?
- Water Harvesting: Farm ponds aid in superior water control through the harvesting not just of rainfall but also of surface run-off and subsurface flows.
- Recharge points: They function as recharge points, contributing to groundwater replenishment.
- Irrigation: They can help in providing supplemental irrigation in the kharif season and an enhanced irrigation coverage in Rabi season. The yield of paddy can thus contributing to greater food security.
- Retention of water: Farm ponds can retain water for 8-10 months of the year; thus farmers could enhance cropping intensity and crop diversification within and across seasons.
- Promote commercial crops: The area used to cultivate vegetables and other commercial crops also increased. They also support cultivation of water-intensive and more profitable commercial crops like papaya, beyond the traditional cotton, onion, etc.
- Cost-Effective: Ponds are financially viable plan, with a fairly high Rate of Return, of about 19%, over 15 years.
- Increased income of farmers: With zero maintenance cost and no requirement of intensive technology, farm ponds can provide extra income to farmers not only through better crops but also through other methods like aquaculture and fishery in farm ponds.
Although farm ponds can help in improving agricultural output, there are many issues faced by agricultural sector. These issues require innovative solutions.
Some Measures to improve agricultural issues in India:
- Irrigation facilities: Small land farmers are unable to arrange irrigation systems. They need proper irrigation. So government should have to take initiative for providing irrigation to the small land owners.
- Education to farmers: Many farmers are not aware about crop rotation. Though education in urban areas has improved a lot , the government has ignored the same in rural areas in general & in agriculture sector. So Government agencies should start efficient mechanism in this regard.
- Need for better water management: Currently available irrigation facility do not cover the entire cultivable land. In most cases, it is not the lack of water but lack of proper water management that causes water shortage. Improved modern methods of rain water harvesting should be developed. Farm ponds are a viable solution. Surplus water from perennial rivers can be diverted to the needy areas. Connecting the rivers throughout the country will solve this problem. Construction of national waterways will improve the irrigation facility, which in turn can save the farmers, if the monsoon would fail.
- Processing industries and cold storage facility: Today 90% farmers want processing unit and cold storage facility in the villages, especially for vegetables and fruits. So that farmers will get proper marketing & rates. This will reduce middlemen exploitation. Government should incentivise industry to open food processing units and cold storage facility near villages.
- Developing alternate source of income for farmers: The Government should take up the responsibility for providing training to the farmers to acquire new skills to reduce the dependence on agriculture. New areas like horticulture, aquaculture, fishery should also be promoted.
- Sustainable farming methods: Organic farming is the way out for sustainable farming. Organic certification process should be more faster. Precision farming helps to get out of drought adversities by targeted input delivery. It requires minimum input and also reduces cost of production. Already Micro-irrigations are helping rained farmers in drought conditions. These methods should be promoted.
- Women support: Women farmers don’t enjoy entitlement to their land. GoI is in process of digitisation of land records. In that process women farmers of that family can also be done to get their Rights. Further smart farm tools and machineries must be gender neutral in its accessibility.
- Climate Resilience farming (CRF): It depends mostly on technological tools like smart weather forecast using Big data analytics. Plant biotechnology by developing short duration varieties, submerged crop varieties for coastal regions, drought resistant varieties for arid areas can further promote CRF.
In Maharashtra, the State government is promoting farm ponds under a flagship programme that aims to dig over one lakh structures by offering a subsidy of up to ₹50,000 per farmer. They can help enhance water control, contribute to agriculture intensification and boost farm incomes. However, this is possible only if they act as rainwater harvesting structures and not as intermediate storage points for an increased extraction of groundwater or diversion of canal water. The latter will cause greater groundwater depletion and inequitable water distribution.