The World Bank has approved a USD 109 million grant for Rajasthan to promote water-efficient agriculture through sustainable and efficient use of resources in the desert state.
The fund,approved yesterday for the Rajasthan Agricultural Competitiveness Project,is expected to benefit some 1,55,000 farmers,mainly those with small land holdings in the state.
“Rajasthan has limited water resources and is facing an increasing constraint on its availability,in particular for agriculture. Improving productivity in irrigated agriculture and achieving productivity gains in rain-fed farming are one of the great untapped opportunities of the agriculture sector in the state,” said Venu Rajamony,Joint Secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs.
He noted that the initiatives under the project are expected to help farmers move from low value and water-guzzling crops to high value farming,as aimed in state’s water policy of 2010.
It is also expected to increase productivity through efficient management of water and crops,improved farming technology,farmer organisations and market innovations in some 20 selected areas of around 10,000 hectares each across 10 Agro-Ecological Zones.
The primary focus of the project is to reduce agricultural water footprint by improving harvest,capture,collection,delivery and distribution of water for crops and livestock dependent on various sources of the natural resource.
It also aims at efficient use of water in farms apart from increasing moisture and fertility in the soil and promote market-oriented production,a World Bank statement said.
“The agricultural sector needs an end-to-end approach ranging from water management to better agricultural practices and marketing,” World Bank Country Director for India,Roberto Zagha said.
He said the initiative will bring various related stand-alone efforts like “water user associations,agriculture technology transfer,farmer producer groups,and marketing development” under one umbrella “through a holistic approach”