In India, rainfed and under invested agriculture supports 40 percent of population, contributes 44 percent of food grains, 60 percent of livestock and is a major driver of rural development which is far behind the urban sector. Productivity of natural resources including rainfall is low as well as risky due to poor management of water and other inputs. Rainfall/
precipitation is the ultimate source of in situ soil and water conservation, aquifer recharge, water harvesting for limited irrigation, river flows and reservoirs of dams for assured irrigation. Productivity of irrigated agriculture is 1.5 to 2 times more than rainfed farming. After having exhausted all irrigation potential, 50 percent of agriculture will continue to be
dependent on rain.

In situ Rainwater Conservation/Harvesting

Highest priority is to preserve rainwater wherever it falls to recharge soil profile, ground water and surface storage. It also improves surface and sub-surface storage.

It also improves surface and subsurface flow perennially. Surface runoff harvesting and storage structures, root top rainfall collection into cistern or ground water recharging, dugout ponds, tanks, tankas, khadins, ahars/Havelis, check dams, stop dams, gully plugs are several water harvesting structures known by different regional names. In situ rainwater conservation is achieved by land shaping, contour or field bounding, cultivation, sowing, various other mechanical or vegetative barriers, terracing and trenching along the contours.

Sub-surface Flow Harvesting

Water springs in the hills mountain ecosystem in a classical example of subsurface flows harvesting. Drying of the springs can be prevented and regular flows ensures post rainy season by in sit reaching in rains, improving and preserving vegetation in the catchment areas. There are other structures of sub-surface dams/ barriers, bandhars, diaphragm dams, collector wells, infiltration galleries as subsurface dams to harness sub-surface flows.

How it Helps Agriculture

In situ rainfall conservation regenerates and enhances biomass production of grasses, shrubs, trees and other forages, enhanced productivity of grains and crops residues as fodder. It
reduces the socially undesirable seasonal migration of herders by 35-100 percent, number of goats, stall feeding increased bovine population, milk productivity and income of the farmers. Irrigation with surface and underground stored rainwater leads to economically better crop diversification, higher inputs due to reduced risk and improved profitability.

Govt. Policies, Programmes and Governance

Rainfall being the ultimate source of water has always attracted attention of saints, philosophers, kings, rulers, democracies and politicians since beginning of the civilization. Water has been treated as a sacred or divine gift in the ancient literature. It was considered an open access, shared and common property resource and did not attract corporate and investors. Conservation and harvesting of rainwater for realizing all kinds of environmental services, food, nutritional and income securities of poor was always a priority of public investments.
Demographic growth led to various kinds of water conflicts and participation of all kinds of stakeholders was censured by very unique, innovative and out of box policies and programmes.

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Courtesy : Kurukshetra