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  • 1. Please cite this article in press as: Malik, R.P.S., et al., Examining farm-level perceptions, costs, and benefits of small water harvesting structures in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh. Agric. Water Manage. (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agwat.2013.07.002 ARTICLE IN PRESS GModel AGWAT-3705; No.of Pages8 Agricultural Water Management xxx (2013) xxx–xxx Contents lists available at ScienceDirect Agricultural Water Management journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/agwat Examining farm-level perceptions, costs, and benefits of small water harvesting structures in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh R.P.S. Malika,∗ , Meredith Giordanob , Vivek Sharmac a International Water Management Institute, 2nd Floor, CG Block C, NASC Complex, DPS Marg, Pusa, New Delhi 110012, India b International Water Management Institute, P.O. Box 2075, Colombo, Sri Lanka c Centre for Advanced Research and Development, H II/195, Arvind Vihar, Baghmugallia, Madhya Pradesh, India a r t i c l e i n f o Article history: Available online xxx Keywords: Decentralized India Investment Irrigation Smallholders a b s t r a c t A recent initiative in Madhya Pradesh, India to promote privately funded, rainwater harvesting structures on farmers’ own land has shown substantial economic and livelihood benefits. In contrast to the many poorly functioning, community managed rainwater harvesting programs, the individual or decentralized rainwater harvesting structures have led to significant improvements in availability of irrigation water, a revival of the agricultural economy of the region, and substantial increases in farmer incomes and liveli- hoods. Since 2006, more than 6000 farmers in the state have invested in on-farm ponds. The investments are highly cost effective and farmers are able to recover their initial investment in approximately 3 years. While longer-terms impact studies are needed, this initial assessment suggests that on-farm rainwater harvesting ponds are a promising private small irrigation option in Madhya Pradesh and similar regions in India and elsewhere. © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. 1. Introduction India has a long tradition of harvesting rainwater, dating back more than two millennia. Evidence of this tradition has been found in ancient texts, inscriptions and archeological remains (http://www.gits4u.com/water/water6.htm). While the tradition diminished considerably in the early part of the 20th century due, in part, to an emphasis on large scale irrigation projects, the practice has experienced a revival recently for a variety of reasons (Agarwal and Narian, 1997). In a country with more than 86 million ha of rainfed agriculture (Sharma et al., 2008), rainwater harvesting offers supplemen- tary irrigation as well as protection against climate variability. It also offers additional options for farmers, who were previously dependent on groundwater resources and now are experiencing fast declining water tables due to overexploitation. Rainwater har- vesting is gaining favor as a positive alternative to costly large-scale irrigation infrastructure projects, particularly in light of grow- ing opposition to the impacts of these large structures on India’s environmental, ecological and social landscapes (Rangachari et al., 2000; Briscoe and Malik, 2006; Shah, 2013). As a result, the last 2 decades have witnessed a significant increase in rainwater har- vesting efforts, albeit in ways that are markedly different from their ∗ Corresponding author. Tel.: +91 11 25840811/25840812, fax: +91 11 25842075. E-mail addresses: r.malik@cgiar.org (R.P.S. Malik), m.giordano@cgiar.org (M. Giordano), card vivek@yahoo.com (V. Sharma). traditional prototypes, in terms of the context and purpose (Kumar et al., 2008). Most past efforts in rainwater harvesting have been initiated by the government, although communities, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have been important stakeholders. Govern- ment support for the structures has come through direct rainwater harvesting programs or through complementary investments in watershed development (e.g., India’s Integrated Watershed Devel- opment Program), micro-watersheds, check dams, small tank revival, and groundwater recharge. With the support of national and state governments, rainwater harvesting structures are gen- erally built on communal land, and, ultimately, are collectively managed through the formation of local water user groups in an effort to promote efficient management of the structures and equi- table allocation of the resource. While community management is often promoted as a means to improve resource productivity, the model has been a source of many failed institutional interventions in India, including partic- ipatory irrigation management (PIM) and irrigation management transfer (IMT) (Shah, 2007). A review of the IMT/PIM literature suggests that community management of natural resources does not always produce the desired results of greater participation or empowerment of stakeholders, nor has such devolution always led to better management, more equitable access to water resources, or improved sustainability of the structures or the resource itself (FAO, 2007; Vermillion et al., 1999; Meinzen-Dick, 1997). Mukherji et al. (2009) examine 108 cases of IMT/PIM in public irrigation systems in India and other parts of Asia. The authors find that successful 0378-3774/$ – see front matter © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agwat.2013.07.002
  • 2. Please cite this article in press as: Malik, R.P.S., et al., Examining farm-level perceptions, costs, and benefits of small water harvesting structures in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh. Agric. Water Manage. (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agwat.2013.07.002 ARTICLE IN PRESS GModel AGWAT-3705; No.of Pages8 2 R.P.S. Malik et al. / Agricultural Water Management xxx (2013) xxx–xxx cases of IMT/PIM occur only under a set of context specific factors, which are either impossible to replicate, or very costly and there- fore, impractical to replicate elsewhere. The authors conclude that transferring irrigation systems to communities does not necessarily ensure better management of such systems (Mukherji et al., 2009). Outcomes from watershed development programs in India, and community managed rainwater harvesting in particular, show similarly mixed results with unsuccessful projects significantly outnumbering successful ones (Sharma, 2009). One of the most intractable problems in watershed development has been the lack of sustainability. Many projects fail to include strategies to main- tain communal assets once project support ends (Sharma, 2009), and farmers often view the benefits as short-term, through paid labor for construction (Joy, 2003). As a result, communities often have little interest in the longer-term operation and maintenance of project assets. Individual control over available water, by contrast, can enable a farmer to better plan agricultural operations, more efficiently and productively use the water resources, and to maintain the struc- tures for long-term use (Takeshima et al., 2010; Molle et al., 2003). A limited number of efforts at constructing private rainwater harvesting structures have been initiated in several parts of India with encouraging results (see for example Jana, 2011; Banerjee, 2011; Pangare and Karmakar, 2003). This approach emphasizes decentralized water harvesting structures built on farmers’ own land with farmers’ own resources. In this paper, we analyze the experience in Dewas district, Mad- hya Pradesh, where there has been significant farmer investment in on-farm ponds since 2006, following precipitous declines in groundwater levels and, consequently, agricultural production. We examine the impacts of the ponds on crop production and other farmer-reported changes to the region’s agricultural and environ- mental landscape. We also present a benefit–cost analysis of farmer investments in the structures, together with considerations for further replication of the approach in other parts of India and else- where. 2. Methodology and data We formulated this case study following an initial scoping study and stakeholder survey in Madhya Pradesh to identify promis- ing, existing small scale agricultural water management practices. Several practices were highlighted through this process, includ- ing the significant private investment in on-farm ponds in Dewas district, Madhya Pradesh. Following initial interviews with district officials, non-governmental agencies and farmers, we selected this case study as one of several for further analysis.1 We collected detailed primary data through personal inter- views in August 2010 using a customized, structured questionnaire administered based on a random sample of 90 farmers who have invested in decentralized rainwater harvesting structures (adopter farmers) and 30 farmers who have not invested in such structures (non-adopter farmers). The sample was drawn using a stratified random sampling scheme from areas characterized by 2 major geo- logical conditions—hard rock aquifers prevailing in the Tonkkhurd block, and soft rock aquifers interspersed with areas of hard rock 1 This study was carried out as part of a larger project examining the oppor- tunities and constraints of small scale agricultural water management (AWM) technologies in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, Zambia, and in the Indian states of Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal. The AgWater Solutions Project was a 3-year, multi-institution project aimed to identify investment options and opportunities in agricultural water management with the greatest potential to improve incomes and food security for poor farmers. For more information about the AgWater Solutions Project and the case studies in Madhya Pradesh see http://www.awm-solutions.iwmi.org/home-page.aspx?reload. Table 1 Number of farming households in the survey, conducted in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh in August 2010. Block Adopter households Non-adopter households Total sample size Khategaon 45 14 59(6) Tonkkhurd 45 16 61(8) Total 90 30 120(14) Note: Figures in parentheses denote the number of villages from which the sampled households were drawn. prevailing in the Khategaon block of Dewas district.2 For sampling, blocks formed the first stage unit, villages within blocks the sec- ond stage unit, and farmer households the final unit of sampling. The selected sample was spread over 6 villages in Khategaon block and 8 villages in Tonkkhurd block. Assessing the structures and their benefits and costs in these 2 contrasting geological conditions was deemed important as the time, effort and cost required to con- struct the water harvesting structure is likely to be higher in areas underlain with hard rock than in soft rock conditions (Table 1). We assessed the impacts on cropping intensity, cropping pat- terns and yield, and the benefit–cost ratio by comparing a selected number of indicators before and after farmer investment in on- farm ponds. Other impacts on the agricultural and environmental landscape, including livestock and fisheries cultivation, ground- water recharge and changes to the surrounding environment, are reported based on information obtained during the survey. Since the intervening period between the project intervention and this assessment has been very short (varying between 1 and 3 years), we believe it is reasonable to assume that the influence of non-project related factors, if any, has been insignificant. In addition to the primary data, we gathered information also through structured discussions with officials at the state, district and block level. We interviewed NGO representatives, private sec- tor entrepreneurs undertaking the construction work of water harvesting structures, and several other individuals engaged in complementary services, such as agricultural marketing, input sup- ply, and equipment supply. 2.1. The study region Dewas district is located in the moist, semi-arid region of Malwa in west-central Madhya Pradesh (Fig. 1).3 Beginning in the mid- 1970s the region underwent a rapid expansion in irrigated area, relying almost exclusively on groundwater. The natural rate of recharge in the region is low, and in the absence of significant arti- ficial recharge initiatives, Dewas and all other districts in the region experienced significant declines in groundwater levels. Extractions began exceeding 80% of natural recharge by the late 1990s (Shankar, 2005). Feedback from our preliminary interviews in the region suggests that current groundwater depths range from 60 to 90 m. Farmers and district officials stated that the failure rate of existing tubewells has increased significantly, and most new investments in tubewells either do not yield any water or yield water with low discharge for only a short period of time. Furthermore, the water yielded is often of poor quality and unsuitable for irrigation. In addition to problems of groundwater quantity and quality, farmers in the region face severe constraints in availability of elec- tricity for irrigation pumping. Even farmers whose tube wells yield 2 Dewas district is divided in six blocks. A block is a smaller administrative unit within a district. 3 The Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh receives on average 800–1000 mm of rainfall/year (Shankar, 2005).
  • 3. Please cite this article in press as: Malik, R.P.S., et al., Examining farm-level perceptions, costs, and benefits of small water harvesting structures in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh. Agric. Water Manage. (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agwat.2013.07.002 ARTICLE IN PRESS GModel AGWAT-3705; No.of Pages8 R.P.S. Malik et al. / Agricultural Water Management xxx (2013) xxx–xxx 3 Fig. 1. District demarcated map of Madhya Pradesh and location of the study area. water, face constraints in extracting the available water due to inadequate and irregular electric power supply. As a result, crop cultivation in the region is generally restricted to one rainfed crop during the wet season, leaving much of the land uncultivated during the dry season. Farmers report precipitous declines in income and limitations on their ability to diversify their production activities and manage risk. For example, lacking sufficient water, some farm- ers are unable to produce sufficient fodder crops that would enable them to raise livestock in an effort to diversify their activities. In response to this situation, the district administration experi- mented, and later launched in 2006, a decentralized approach to rainwater harvesting, under which farmers were encouraged to build rainwater harvesting structures on their own land. For the construction of the ponds, the district administration suggested farmers allocate from 6% to 10% of their land for the ponds.4 The ponds are unlined but tractors are used to compact the soil in order to minimize seepage. The district administration provided the technical and logistical support, such as in siting of the struc- tures (taking into account physical characteristics such as slope and rainfall), arranging for digging equipment from private contractors, and in price negotiations. The material and labor were provided by the farmers themselves. Since its launch, the initiative has taken the form of a movement, and the district administration reports that more than 6000 farmers have invested in the ponds (Umrao, 2011, personal communication). 4 This “rule-of-thumb” was determined based on prevailing physical and agro- nomic conditions in the district with the overall objective of encouraging investment without overcapitalization. 3. Results The pace of construction rapidly increased following the pro- gram launch in 2006. About 87% of the sampled adopter farming households in Khategaon and 98% in Tonkkhurd completed their structures by 2008 (Table 2). The average area assigned for water Table 2 Characteristics of water harvesting structures of farmers interviewed in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh in August 2010. Characteristic Khategaon Tonkkhurd Proportion of water harvesting structures constructed during (%) (%) 2006 16 33 2007 20 20 2008 47 45 2009 13 2 2010 4 0 Proportion of operated area allocated to water harvesting structure 10.04 8.79 Average depth of water harvesting structure when constructed (m) 3.47 2.20 Average depth of water harvesting structure currently (m) 3.75 2.67 Distribution of water harvesting structures according to their current depths (m) (%) (%) 1.52–2.13 22 36 2.44–3.05 36 47 3.35–4.57 26 13 >4.57 16 4 Note: Khategaon and Tonkkhurd are administrative blocks within Dewas district, Madhya Pradesh. The survey was conducted in August 2010. We interviewed 59 farmers in Khategaon and 61 farmers in Tonkkhurd, for a total of 120 households. 45 households within each block adopted water harvesting structures. The above data relates to these 90 households.
  • 4. Please cite this article in press as: Malik, R.P.S., et al., Examining farm-level perceptions, costs, and benefits of small water harvesting structures in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh. Agric. Water Manage. (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agwat.2013.07.002 ARTICLE IN PRESS GModel AGWAT-3705; No.of Pages8 4 R.P.S. Malik et al. / Agricultural Water Management xxx (2013) xxx–xxx Table 3 Changes in cultivated area, cropping patterns and cropping intensity. Season Indicator Khategaon Tonkkhurd Beforea (%) Aftera (%) Beforea (%) Aftera (%) Wet Operated areab allocated to: Soybean 68 91 97 98 Cotton 30 7 0 0 Operated area left fallow 2 2 3 2 Dry Operated area allocated to: Wheat 18 47 9 53 Gram 4 46 15 43 Operated area left fallow 78 7 76 4 Annual Cropping Intensityc 122 194 125 198 Note: Khategaon and Tonkkhurd are administrative blocks within Dewas district, Madhya Pradesh. The survey was conducted in August 2010. We interviewed 59 farmers in Khategaon and 61 farmers in Tonkkhurd, for a total of 120 households. 45 households within each block adopted water harvesting structures. The above data relates to these 90 households. a “Before” and “after” refer to periods before and after construction of water harvesting structures. b Operated area = owned area + leased-in area − leased-out area. c Cropping intensity is the ratio of gross cropped area to net sown area expressed as percentage. harvesting structures varied between 10% of the operated area5 in Khategaon to 8.8% in Tonkkhurd. To minimize the possible risks associated with investing in a new intervention, most of the initial adopters invested in relatively shallow structures. Newer structures became progressively deeper as farmers witnessed the success of the earlier investors. Initially, the depths of the structures ranged from 1.5 to 7.6 m, with average depths of 3.5 m in Khategaon and 2.2 m in Tonkkhurd (Table 2). The current average depths are 3.8 m and 2.7 m, respectively. A few farmers in the region have invested in structures as deep as 7.6 m, and farmers are increasingly constructing deeper structures to enhance water storage potential, while minimizing the area they set aside for that purpose. Farmers generally adhere to the 6% to 10% land allocation suggestion, described above, and they do not overinvest in their structures. Most farmers (87% in Khategaon and 96% in Tonkkhurd) report that the size of their water harvesting structure is just suffi- cient to meet their crop water requirements, and they do not have additional water to sell to neighboring farmers. 3.1. Impacts on crop production The primary motivation for investing in water harvesting struc- tures has been to store available rainwater during the wet season and to use the stored water for irrigation in the following dry season. The water stored in these structures can also be used for supplemental irrigation in the wet season (i.e., during long dry spells), thus serving as a hedge against unreliable rainfall even in the wet season. We analyzed the direct impacts from investing in the structures on the agricultural sector through an assessment of changes in (i) cultivable land kept fallow, (ii) cropping intensity, (iii) cropping pattern in wet and dry seasons, (iv) cultivation practices, (v) water conservation practices, and (vi) crop yields. 3.1.1. Decline in fallow land and shifts in cropping intensity6 The most important consideration for investing in water har- vesting structures has been to enable, through the provision of irrigation water, crop cultivation during the dry season. Before the construction of water harvesting structures, farmers cultivated nearly their entire operated area during the wet season, but kept fallow more than 75% of the cultivable area during dry season, due 5 Operated area = owned area + leased-in area − leased-out area. 6 Cropping intensity is defined as the ratio of gross cropped area to net sown area expressed as a percentage. to lack of water. Only a few farmers who had access to some source of irrigation could cultivate part of their land during the dry sea- son. Following the construction of water harvesting structures, the available water in the structures has enabled farmers to overcome this constraint. As a result, the proportion of area kept fallow in the dry season has declined sharply to between 4% and 7%. Conse- quently the annual cropping intensity on adopting farmers’ fields has increased from about 122% prior to construction of these struc- tures to about 198% afterwards (Table 3). 3.1.2. Changes in cropping pattern The primary purpose of constructing on-farm ponds is to provide water for irrigation during the dry season. Yet some farm- ers use the water also for supplemental irrigation in the wet season. Thus, we discuss the observed changes in cropping patterns during the wet and dry seasons. 3.1.2.1. The wet season. During the last several years, most of the sampled farmers have cultivated soybeans during the wet season, generally as a rainfed crop. However, some farmers in Khategaon block have also cultivated cotton on some of their land during the wet season. Soybeans do not require supplemental irrigation. Thus, the construction of water harvesting structures is not expected to result in changes to cropping patterns during the wet season. While rainwater harvesting structures are primarily intended for use in the dry season, the water stored in the structures fol- lowing the onset of monsoons nevertheless becomes available for supplemental irrigation during the early wet season and allows for a shift in the cropping pattern away from rainfed crops (e.g., soy- beans). Further, use of the structures for supplemental irrigation does not generally compromise dry season use, as the structures can be refilled at the end of the monsoon season. In light of this, we inquired if the sampled farmers have attempted to use the stored water for cultivating irrigated crops during wet season, and, if not, what have been the constraining factors. Our results suggest that none of the sampled farmers (with 2 exceptions) has used the harvested water to introduce irrigated crops in the wet season. While many reasons were given, the non-availability and high cost of labor, and the lack of access to technology and output markets for the sale of irrigated crops are common constraints in both study sites (Table 4). 3.1.2.2. The dry season. Wheat and gram are the 2 most important dry season crops. Following the availability of irrigation water, sampled farmers have started cultivating wheat and gram on land which was hitherto uncultivated. Wheat and gram have different
  • 5. Please cite this article in press as: Malik, R.P.S., et al., Examining farm-level perceptions, costs, and benefits of small water harvesting structures in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh. Agric. Water Manage. (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agwat.2013.07.002 ARTICLE IN PRESS GModel AGWAT-3705; No.of Pages8 R.P.S. Malik et al. / Agricultural Water Management xxx (2013) xxx–xxx 5 Table 4 Reasons given by farmers for not modifying cropping patterns to include irrigated crops in the wet season. Proportion of sampled farmers reporting in the affirmative Khategaon Tonkkhurd Started cultivating any new irrigated crop during the wet season 2 0 Reasons for not cultivating Lack of skills in cultivating these crops 24 56 Lack of access to technology 56 62 Lack of access to markets for these crops 62 42 Lack of transport facilities/high cost of transportation 2 9 Lower market price than the existing crop 2 9 Lack of processing facilities (e.g. rice shellers, sugar mills etc.) 78 13 Insufficient water available to grow irrigated crops 22 2 Non-availability/high cost of labor 91 53 Note: Khategaon and Tonkkhurd are administrative blocks within Dewas district, Madhya Pradesh. The survey was conducted in August 2010. We interviewed 59 farmers in Khategaon and 61 farmers in Tonkkhurd, for a total of 120 households. 45 households within each block adopted water harvesting structures. The above data relates to these 90 households. irrigation water requirements. Depending upon the amount of water available in the water harvesting structure, farmers decide how much of their available area to cultivate, and for which crop (wheat or gram) to optimize water use during the dry season. Farmers generally do not plan to meet the full crop water require- ments, but rather seek to give 2 to 3 irrigations to wheat and 1 irrigation to gram. Following investment in on-farm ponds, the proportion of area cultivated during the dry season has increased from about 22% to about 96%. Wheat and gram are now being cultivated on almost equal proportions of the operated area with wheat occupying between 47% and 53% of the dry season cultivated area and gram occupying the balance (see Table 3 above). 3.1.3. Changes in cultivation practices In addition to extending crop cultivation to the dry season, there has also been a significant shift in cultivation practices. With the availability of stored water for irrigation and consequential agricultural intensification, farmers are under increased pressure to complete various stages of crop operations in a timely man- ner. Farmers stated that this requirement, coupled with the severe shortage of agricultural labor and high wage rates has encouraged a switch toward more mechanized farming. Most of the sampled farmers in both study locations reported moving from bullocks to tractors (owned or hired) for land preparation and sowing. Crop harvesting is also being increasingly mechanized, with combine harvesters hired for harvesting and threshing operations. 3.1.4. Adoption of water conserving practices Water stored in the structures is pumped out for irrigation using either a small diesel engine or an electric motor. Given the efforts made in harvesting rainwater, we would expect that farmers would try to use the available water most efficiently and maximize crop water productivity. Adoption of water conserving technolo- gies such as sprinkler and drip could help in making more efficient use of the available water. The results, however, show that farmer adoption of water conserving technologies is still very low. Only 3 of the 45 farmers in Khategaon and none of the 45 farmers in Tonkkhurd reported using any water conserving practices. The rea- sons include lack of awareness, high cost of related technologies, Table 5 Changes in crop yields reported by farmers, in quintals per ha. Crop Khategaon Before After Irrigated Rainfed Irrigated Rainfed Soybean 13.1 (12) 12.6 (30) 13.6 (12) 13.1 (33) Cotton 8.9 (12) 7.2 (19) 9.4 (3) 7.7 (9) Wheat 20.8 (15) – 24.7 (42) – Gram 12.6 (11) – 13.3 (42) 9.9 (1) Crop Tonkkhurd Before After Irrigated Rainfed Irrigated Rainfed Soybean – 13.3 (45) – 12.1 (45) Cotton – – – – Wheat 19.8 (14) 18.3 (3) 23.2 (45) – Gram 12.6 (15) 8.6 (2) 13.3 (41) – Note: Khategaon and Tonkkhurd are administrative blocks within Dewas district, Madhya Pradesh. The survey was conducted in August 2010. We interviewed 59 farmers in Khategaon and 61 farmers in Tonkkhurd, for a total of 120 households. 45 households within each block adopted water harvesting structures. The above data relates to these 90 households. “Before” and “after” refer to the periods before and after construction of water har- vesting structures. “Irrigated” refers to the area receiving irrigation water from water harvesting struc- ture. “Rainfed” refers to area receiving no irrigation water from any source. Figures in parentheses denote the number of observations on the basis of which average yields have been computed. lack of access to finance, and other technological impediments, such as laying and removing of pipelines and damage due to rodents. Another important reason reported for non-adoption is that the availability of irrigation has improved water availability to such an extent that farmers do not deem water conservation technologies as essential. An economic analysis to compare the cost of increasing the water storage capacity with the adoption of water conservation technologies could provide important insights. 3.1.5. Impact on crop yields The availability of irrigation water combined with improved farming practices, more intensive use of inputs and improved crop varieties have together resulted in increased crop yields (Table 5). The yields of all the irrigated crops are higher under “after” con- ditions as compared to those under “before”7 conditions. With limited data available, it was not possible to isolate the impact of availability of water per se to increases in crop yields. However, the availability of water from the water harvesting structures has enabled cultivation of irrigated crops during the dry season on land which was previously fallow. Thus, crop production in the dry sea- son is actually a net addition to annual output, facilitated by the availability of water from these water harvesting structures. 3.2. Other reported impacts The primary impetus for farmer investment in rainwater har- vesting structures in Dewas district has been to provide an alternative source for irrigation. However, other possible bene- fits from on-farm water storage include opportunities for livestock and fish cultivation and groundwater recharge, improved drinking water availability in adjoining wells, and improved ecology. We present here farmer-reported benefits related to livestock and fish cultivation as well as farmers’ perceptions of the impact of rainwa- 7 “Before” and “after” refer to farm conditions prevailing before and after the construction of the water harvesting structures.
  • 6. Please cite this article in press as: Malik, R.P.S., et al., Examining farm-level perceptions, costs, and benefits of small water harvesting structures in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh. Agric. Water Manage. (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agwat.2013.07.002 ARTICLE IN PRESS GModel AGWAT-3705; No.of Pages8 6 R.P.S. Malik et al. / Agricultural Water Management xxx (2013) xxx–xxx Table 6 Livestock numbers and milk production reported by farmers interviewed in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh in August 2010. Unit Khategaon Tonkkhurd Before After % Change Before After % Change Buffaloes Number 67 77 15 49 39 −20 Cows Number 27 17 −37 20 26 30 Oxen Number 4 4 0 8 2 −75 Annual Milk Production Liters (‘000) 123 164 34 102 103 11 Note: Khategaon and Tonkkhurd are administrative blocks within Dewas district, Madhya Pradesh. The survey was conducted in August 2010. We interviewed 59 farmers in Khategaon and 61 farmers in Tonkkhurd, for a total of 120 households. 45 households within each block adopted water harvesting structures. The above data relates to these 90 households. “Before” and “after” refer to the periods before and after construction of water harvesting structures. ter harvesting structures on the region’s ecology, environment and groundwater resources. 3.2.1. Impact on livestock The availability of fodder is important for farmers considering investments in livestock. Previously, the lack of access to irrigation in the study region constrained the availability of fodder and there- fore investment by farmers in livestock. To assess the impact of rainwater harvesting structures on livestock, we examined changes in both livestock numbers and milk production. Since the introduction of rainwater harvesting structures, the cultivation of wheat by farmers in the dry season has to some extent improved the region’s availability of fodder and conse- quently encouraged farmers to improve and expand their livestock activity. However, livestock activity is also capital intensive, and thus progress on this front has been relatively slow. Rather than increasing herd size, farmers report initially investing in improving the quality of their herd by replacing the existing low milk yielding stock with improved breeds (e.g., by introducing high milk yielding cows and buffaloes from Punjab and Haryana). The results obtained from our survey suggest that while the total livestock numbers have either remained constant or declined somewhat, the mix of animals has changed (Table 6). The net result has been an increase in annual milk production by 34% in Khategaon and 11% in Tonkkhurd. 3.2.2. Impact on fish cultivation In general the rainwater harvesting structures are not used for fish cultivation. Only 3 farmers in the 2 study sites reported fish farming on a limited scale in their constructed ponds. The main constraint reported was the insufficient period during which the tanks are inundated. The water stored in the structures is depleted in 4–5 months. Some farmers indicated that it is possible to leave some minimum amount of water standing in the structure for a longer period for fish cultivation but they do not have the requi- site technical knowledge. In addition, investment in aquaculture in this particular region of Madhya Pradesh is likely limited as the population largely follows a strict vegetarian diet. 3.2.3. Ecological and environmental impacts Farmers reported several positive, local ecological impacts. Almost 85% of the sampled respondents in both study locations responded that the density and availability of wildlife (such as deer, wolves and other similar large animals) have substantially increased in the region following the construction of water harvest- ing structures. Other ecological changes observed include a return of migratory birds to the region, and a significant increase in the number of resident small birds (e.g., peacocks, ducks and fowl). No increase in mosquito populations was reported. 3.2.4. Impact on groundwater We did not have access to any official data on the ground- water table before and after the construction of the structures. However, farmers in the region perceived some improvement in groundwater availability. About 40% of the sampled farmers in both study locations reported that seepage from the structures had led to a rise in the groundwater table as reflected by the relative ease in obtaining drinking water from open wells in the region. 3.3. Benefit–cost analysis of investing in water harvesting structures Based on the data obtained through the surveys and described above, we present in Table 7 estimates of annual increments in benefits and costs on an average sampled farm in the study region. The calculations only include all quantifiable costs and benefits, and therefore do not include qualitative data obtained, such as the envi- ronmental and ecological impacts described above. To help farmers offset part of the capital cost in undertaking construction of the structures, the Government now provides a one-time capital sub- sidy of up to INR 80,0008 (Government of Madhya Pradesh, 2013). However, as budgetary constraints limit the number of farmers eli- gible for this activity, the benefit–cost ratios include 2 scenarios—1 without a subsidy and 1 with a capital subsidy of INR 80,000. From a farmer’s perspective, the availability of a government subsidy implies a corresponding reduction in the farmer’s financial cost to invest in the structure. Due primarily to differences in the capital cost of the struc- tures between Khategaon (soft rock region) and Tonkkhurd (hard rock region), the benefit–cost ratios differ between the 2 blocks. Without a government subsidy the benefit–cost ratio works out to between 1.92 in Khategaon and 1.48 in Tonkkhurd. The estimated payback period in the 2 cases is 2.5 and 3.1 years, respectively. With a government subsidy of INR 80,000 the farmer’s capital cost of investment is reduced. As a result, the benefit–cost ratio improves to between 2.39 and 1.72 in the case of Khategaon and Tonkkhurd, respectively. The respective payback period also declines to 1.9 and 2.6 years for the 2 locations. 3.4. Scaling up: what constrains farmers from investing in structures? If the investment in decentralized water harvesting structures has been so profitable, why is it that a large number of farmers, especially some of those located in the vicinity of the adopting households, have not so far invested in this activity? The results from our survey identified the following 2 key reasons: (i) lack of access to financial resources to pay for the initial cost of constructing the water harvesting structures; and 8 Equivalent to USD 1480 at an exchange rate of 1 USD = 54 INR.
  • 7. Please cite this article in press as: Malik, R.P.S., et al., Examining farm-level perceptions, costs, and benefits of small water harvesting structures in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh. Agric. Water Manage. (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agwat.2013.07.002 ARTICLE IN PRESS GModel AGWAT-3705; No.of Pages8 R.P.S. Malik et al. / Agricultural Water Management xxx (2013) xxx–xxx 7 Table 7 Farm level estimates of benefits and costs of investments in water harvesting structures. Parameter Characteristics Khategaon Tonkkhurd Farm and structure Average size of farm (ha) 8.1 10.1 Average size of water harvesting structure (ha) 0.84 0.89 Average depth of water harvesting structure (m) 3.47 2.20 Benefits Net annual increase in income from crop production (Rs) (gross value of output-operating costs) 135,041 154,673 Net annual increase in income from livestock production (Rs) 11,122 2,720 Total annual increase in net income (Rs) 146,163 157,393 Scenario 1—no government subsidy Cost Capital cost of structure (Rs) 361,330 484,675 Life of structure (assumed) (years) 15 15 Annual depreciation (Rs) 24,089 32,312 Annual interest cost (at 10% of capital cost) (Rs) 36,133 48,468 Annual maintenance cost (at 2% of capital cost) (Rs) 7,227 9,694 Opportunity cost of land where the structure built (=annual loss of net value of crop production on land where harvesting structure built) (Rs) 8,597 16,064 Total annual cost (Rs) 76,046 106,537 Benefit: cost ratio 1.92 1.48 Pay back period (years) 2.5 3.1 Scenario 2—capital subsidy of Rs 80,000 by the government Cost Capital cost of structure (Rs) 281,330 404,675 Total annual cost (Rs) 61,112 91,604 Benefit: cost ratio 2.39 1.72 Pay back period (years) 1.9 2.6 Table 8 Awareness of and willingness to invest in water harvesting structures by sampled non-adopting households. Characteristic Khategaon (n = 16) Tonkkhurd (n = 14) Total (n = 30) Awareness of water harvesting structures 13 13 26 Knowledge of someone who has constructed such structures 12 13 25 Ever seen/visited such structures 12 13 25 Number of respondents who would not like to invest in similar structures on their farm 11 14 25 Reasons for unwillingness to construct structures Lack of funds to invest 11 10 21 Difficult to part with land for the purpose 10 11 21 Access to alternative irrigation sources 6 2 8 Unsure about economics of investment 0 2 2 Unsure about sufficient water availability to fill a structure 2 3 5 Unconvinced about long-term implication of such investment 0 2 2 Unsure about technical feasibility of structures 2 0 2 Note: Khategaon and Tonkkhurd are administrative blocks within Dewas district, Madhya Pradesh. The survey was conducted in August 2010. We interviewed 59 farmers in Khategaon and 61 farmers in Tonkkhurd, for a total of 120 households. 90 of these households adopted water harvesting structures. These results pertain only to the remaining 30 households we interviewed that did not invested in rainwater harvesting structures. (ii) reluctance of farmers, especially those with very small land- holdings, to set aside part of their already small cultivable area for construction of such a structure (Table 8). 4. Conclusions Decentralized rainwater harvesting structures have played a positive role in alleviating severe water scarcity challenges in Dewas district, Madhya Pradesh. Given the small landholdings in India, farmers are generally sensitive about either diverting or utilizing a part of their land for non-cultivation purposes. However, farmers who have invested in the structures have experienced improved water availability through rainwater harvesting, which in turn has directly and indirectly improved the socio-economic conditions of rural population and environmental landscape of the region. Furthermore, the decentralized nature of the structures has avoided many of the management and sustainability issues faced in community approaches to rainwater harvesting, including the allocation of shared resources and the maintenance of the supporting assets. Further upscaling this option, however, requires consideration of 2 key issues. The first relates to resource sustainability. As noted above, positive environmental impacts were noted by farmers in the district following the implementation of rainwater harvest- ing structures, related to the surrounding ecology as well as, and importantly for the region, groundwater recharge. The potential downstream impacts need to be further studied, however, before implementing the model on a larger scale. An assessment in a semi-arid watershed in Andhra Pradesh, for example, found that while rainwater harvesting improved crop yields and groundwater recharge locally, water outflows from the developed area declined significantly resulting in potentially large negative impacts for downstream users (Garg et al., 2011). Moreover, within the study region itself, increased cropping intensity following the introduc- tion of rainwater harvesting, may in fact result in less water being available to recharge groundwater supplies. The second issue relates to equity. To date, the adopters of the structures have been financially better-off farmers in Dewas district with relatively larger landholdings. While the 10% rain- water harvesting model is profitable even after accounting for the loss in productive land due to construction of the structures, poorer farmers with smaller landholdings are reluctant to adopt the model for both risk- and financial-related reasons. Setting aside even small portions of land is a risk for smallholder farmers. In
  • 8. Please cite this article in press as: Malik, R.P.S., et al., Examining farm-level perceptions, costs, and benefits of small water harvesting structures in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh. Agric. Water Manage. (2013), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agwat.2013.07.002 ARTICLE IN PRESS GModel AGWAT-3705; No.of Pages8 8 R.P.S. Malik et al. / Agricultural Water Management xxx (2013) xxx–xxx addition, access to and financing of the significant initial invest- ment cost associated with structures—between INR 360,000 and INR 485,000 for a 0.8 ha structure9—is a significant challenge as reported by many non-adopting farmers. Government subsidies are available to support farmers on a limited basis, but not all eligible farmers are able to access the subsidy or other forms of external financing. Complementary interventions could be explored to overcome these constraints. First, in terms of the size of the structures, similar models, such as the 5% hapas10 structures prevalent in West Bengal, have shown promise among all social classes of farmers (Banerjee, 2011; Jana, 2011). Further investigation of structure size and crop mix may open up a greater spectrum of decentralized rainwater harvesting options. Expanding or extending existing credit options for smallholder farmers is another possible intervention. Currently, India’s public sector banking system treats loans for rainwater harvesting struc- tures as commercial loans, with a higher interest rate than the concessionary rate offered for other types of agricultural loans, such as crop loans. Treating rainwater harvesting structures as part of the agricultural loan portfolio would allow a wider spectrum of farmers to finance the structures. Microcredit, cooperative banks and/or the donor community may also become involved through loan guarantees or revolving lines of credit. A third option is to develop links with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), which guarantees employment to rural households on construction work that addresses the causes of chronic poverty. Initiated by the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the program seeks, among other things, to provide a growth engine for sustainable development of an agricultural economy. MGNREGS now covers the entire country with the exception of districts that have 100% urban populations. The majority of the permissible works being carried out under MGNREGS relate to building infrastructure to enhance water security in rural areas. Building structures on private land, however, is permitted for only a subset of farmers belong- ing to certain socio-economic categories, as defined under the Act, and therefore excludes all but the poorest farming house- holds. Extension of this facility to wider strata of the rural poor could accelerate adoption of decentralized rainwater harvesting structures. Decentralized rainwater harvesting is a financially viable alter- native to large scale, centralized irrigation infrastructure and to community managed structures. Starting on a small scale to ensure “proof of concept”, the initiative quickly took the form of a movement in Dewas district, where the practice has improved agricultural incomes, expanded livelihood options and provided non-agricultural benefits to the broader community and envi- ronment. It is applicable to regions of India and elsewhere that receive moderately high rainfall, and offer a potentially more sus- tainable option to groundwater irrigation. Further examination of the research and investment opportunities described here could expand the reach of this promising small private irrigation solution. Acknowledgments “This report was funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The findings and conclusions contained within are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect positions or 9 Between USD 6600 and 9000 at an exchange rate of 1 USD = 54 INR. 10 Hapas are water harvesting structures which have been promoted by some NGOs in West Bengal (India) following a criterion somewhat similar to the one reported in the present study. Most of these structures in West Bengal have been built on the farms of small farmers. policies of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.” We appreciate also the helpful comments and suggestions of two anonymous reviewers. References Agarwal, A., Narian, S., 1997. Dying Wisdom: Rise and Fall of Traditional Water Harvesting Systems. Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi. Banerjee, P.S., 2011. Impact study of hapa and its multiple uses in Bankura dis- trict. 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