Can Watershed-Based Interventions be a Panacea to Agrarian Distress in Vidarbha Region of Maharashtra? a Case Study
AbstractWatershed-based interventions have brought a paradigm shift in the resource conservation and production across the rain-fed landscape of the country. Yet some regions still face agrarian distress and Vidarbha region is one among them. The present study explored this issue with a focus on watershed-based interventions. The historical agricultural development and agrarian distress of Vidarbha region were examined with respect to conservation of natural resource and its impact on mitigating the distress and absolving the locals of misery. This study proposed to test the hypotheses that watershed approach of decentralised water harvesting and utilisation are the remedy to overcome the agrarian stagnation suffered by the Vidarbha region. Participatory watershed management project funded by a development agency was taken up as a case study. The watershed programme undertaken in the region attempted to address the water shortage problem, apart from addressing credit needs of the local stakeholders. The programme was evaluated from socio-economic view point examining the impact on agricultural production, income, poverty reduction and migration. The study argued that despite positive changes in socio-economic condition of farmers resulting from watershed programme, the economic gain was too little to push them out of the vicious circle of misery. It was suggested to further strengthen the subsidiary input supply chain including market intelligence and remunerative prices of crop, apart from strengthening the existing conservation efforts.
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