Government Scheme of Dry Zone Agriculture in India

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1. The development of dry zone agriculture forms part of the 20 point Programmes initiated by the Government.

2. Many programmes have been introduced for the development of agriculture in dry zone areas. This involves the identification of 4609 micro-wa­tersheds for comprehensive and systematic develop­ment covering an area of about 35, 45,000 hectares. Each micro-watershed covers an area of about 1000 ha and the programme contents include scientific management of rain water, land development, use of improved seeds of drought resistant varieties and fertilisers, plantation of forest and trees, develop­ment of animal husbandry and allied activities. Of these 46 model watersheds have been identified for developing as focal points jointly by Central and State governments/ICAR research institutes/agri­cultural universities and watershed community. These watersheds will test the technology and train the field workers.

3. A pilot project for watershed development in dry land areas has been taken up with the assist­ance of the World Bank. The project envisages the development of identified watersheds of about 25,000- 30,000 ha area in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka. A comprehensive Kandi watershed project has been launched in Pun­jab with the assistance of World Bank at a total cost of Rs. 51.05 crore.

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4. Under dry farming programme crops like maize, sunflower, soyabean, mustard and coarse grains requiring less moisture are being promoted in rain shadow areas of Karnataka.

5. During Seventh Five Year Plan a national water logging, development programme has been initiated for dry land farming in 99 selected districts of 16 states.

6. Agro-forestry, agri-horticulture and silvipasture are other programmes initiated by the government for alternative land use systems in dry zone areas.

With the growing emphasis on privatization there is possibility for varied and fruitful research alternatives for dry zone development. This will enhance the competitive potential of dry land farm­ing. Involvement of non-government voluntary or­ganisations can be useful in the implementation of dry zone agricultural development programmes.

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There is a need to work out the modalities and, if necessary, to enact legislation promoting corporatisation of watershed based dry land agricultural development considering soil and rainwater as national assets. Plans should be formulated based on water harvest­ing technology to conserve available moisture and utilise it for supplementary irrigation.

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