The project will cover about 4.65 lakh hectares and 1.60 lakh farmer households in seven backward districts.

The World Bank has approved a $60-million credit to the Karnataka Watershed Development Project II (KWDP II) to improve watershed planning and management in project areas.

The bank said in a release that the project builds on the successful experience of the earlier Karnataka Watershed Development Project I, also known as Sujala, which helped improve the lives of 2.30 lakh farmers by increasing crop yields by about 25 per cent, and raising household incomes of small and marginal farmers by 40 per cent.

Target area

Karnataka’s dry regions are among the State’s poorest, have low agricultural productivity, and are susceptible to drought and deepening environmental stress and degradation. The project area has 39,400 landless families.

Annual normal rainfall varies from 600 to 800 mm with 43 rainy days a year. Rain-fed agriculture in 2.78 lakh hectares of the project area experiences at least two water-deficit years in a five-year cycle due to prolonged dry spells during crop season and/or delayed onset of monsoon rains.

Focus areas

KWDP II will focus on improving the performance and results of IWMP by introducing new tools and approaches for integrated watershed planning, incorporating more information about water resources into the planning process, facilitating better convergence of IWMP with other government programs such as NREGS, and helping farmers increase agricultural productivity.

The project will cover about 4.65 lakh hectares and 1.60 lakh farmer households in seven districts.

The project will be financed by a credit from the International Development Association (IDA) – the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm – which provides interest-free loans with 25 years to maturity and a grace period of five years.

“This project will build on the earlier Bank-supported Karnataka Watershed Development Project I (KWDP I) and initiate innovative pilots which will help increase agricultural production in rain fed areas, lead to better use of scarce water resources and raise household incomes of farmers,” said Onno Ruhl, World Bank Country Director for India.

“This project, we also hope, will lead to better convergence between government’s Integrated Watershed Management Program (IWMP) and the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act scheme (NREGS) programmes, and thereby, demonstrate efficient use of public funds,” he added.

Consequently, a primary focus of the project is on supporting the implementation of IWMP in the 7-selected districts of Karnataka through better planning, capacity building, monitoring and evaluation, and post-harvest value addition.

Other components

Among the other components of the project, horticulture is expected to play a major role in raising income of farmers even in dry tracks.

“Through this project we hope to strengthen the bottom-up engagement of small farmers and increase their opportunities for adapting to new technologies. The Project will also strengthen the financial and technical convergence between IWMP and NREGS through more integrated watershed planning and monitoring, and developing innovative tools and processes in sub and micro-watersheds,” said Grant Milne, senior natural resources management specialist, World Bank, and the project’s task team leader.

anil.u@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on September 7, 2012)
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