Till a few years ago, the farmers of Maharashtra’s Sonushi village in Nashik district grew only kharif crops, specifically rice (paddy). But after the harvest each year, their land lay vacant. The village didn’t have a year-round irrigation system and there wasn’t enough rain to grow more crops.
This meant loss of potential revenue for the farmers.
Then HUF and MITTRA offered them a solution.
HUF drives the Integrated Watershed Development Project in Nashik and partners with MITTRA for conservation of natural resources (especially water and land). MITTRA refers to Maharashtra Institute of Technology Transfer for Rural Areas, and is a sister organisation of BAIF Development Research Foundation.
The HUF-MITTRA team promoted unique irrigation system in the village and set up a DBI or diversion-based irrigation system. DBI is a simple, low cost method that uses gravity to guide water flow from rivers and streams to nearby fields.
With the DBI system, the farmers have access to water throughout the year. They now grow three crops a year over 45 acres.
After the rice season is over, the farmers plant Rabi crops such as wheat and gram. They also cultivate vegetables - chillies, brinjal, onions, tomatoes and cucumbers in summer.
The farmers now collectively generate 60 to 65 tonnes of agriculture produce annually. Each farmer in the village has enjoyed an income of around Rs 4 - 4.5 lakhs in the last couple of years.
One of the happy farmers is Walu Dhongde. “The new methods and water availability have given us more livelihood opportunities,” he says. “This programme has also increased awareness of water-efficient irrigation techniques and instilled the spirit of ownership in the villagers.”
The next step is community participation. “We are preparing to drive and maintain sustainable, self-reliant institutions such as water user groups, village-level water community set up by HUF-BAIF,” explains Walu Dhongde.
It’s heartening to note how an HUF-MITTRA water conservation project has helped transform the economic and social lives of farmers. As this remarkable story demonstrates, small steps can go a long way to improve peoples’ lives.
Hindustan Unilever Foundation
HUF is a not-for-profit company that anchors various community development initiatives of Hindustan Unilever Limited. HUF supports national priorities for socio-economic development through its 'Water For Public Good' programme. Each of our projects also complies with the requirements of the Companies Bill 2013.
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