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India: World Bank approves credit for agri projectThe World Bank has approved $109 million US credit to the Rajasthan Agricultural Competitiveness Project to increase agricultural productivity through sustainable and efficient use of water resources.
The project aims to increase both agricultural productivity and the income of farmers. The project will cover 20 selected areas, each 10,000ha in size, to the benefit of 155,000 small farmers.
One of the big problems facing agriculture - and the population in general - in Rajashtan, is lack of water. An ordinarily difficult situation has been compounded in recent years by erratic rainfall and recurrent droughts.
Farmers in the area also struggle against a lack of access to resources ranging from land to technology.
"Rajasthan has limited water resources and is facing an increasing constraint on water availability, in particular for agriculture. Improving productivity per unit of water use in irrigated agriculture (both surface and groundwater) and achieving productivity gains in rain-fed agriculture are one of the great untapped opportunities of the agriculture sector in the state," said Mr. Venu Rajamony, Joint Secretary in the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India. "A more water-efficient agriculture, as envisaged under this Project, is expected to help farmers move from low value, often water-guzzling crops to high value farming, as envisaged by the Government of Rajasthan in its Water Sector Policy adopted in 2010."
The primary aim of the project, therefore, is to reduce the agricultural consumption of water by improving harvest and delivery and distribution techniques, for example, as well as collection techniques.
"The agricultural sector needs an end-to-end approach ranging from water management to better agricultural practices and marketing," said Mr. Roberto Zagha, World Bank Country Director for India. "While various individual building blocks of an end-to-end approach like water user associations, agriculture technology transfer, farmer producer groups, and marketing development have been tested across different projects in India, the Rajasthan Agricultural Competitiveness Project, is for the first time, attempting to integrate all these elements across three water sources – canal water, ground water and rainfed agriculture – through a holistic approach."
The project will also encourage the formation of farmers' groups in order to provide support and promotional assistance for growers.
it's a challenge certainly, but there is also much potential. "The state holds several promising potentials. For example, it can diversify into higher value, less water consuming horticultural production; it has a range of tested on-farm water management technologies; and experience in managing public-private partnerships in agriculture," said Severin Kodderitzsch, the Project’s Task Team Leader and the Bank’s Country Sector Coordinator for Agriculture and Rural Development in India. "Achieving sustainable water resources management practices within agriculture is at the core of the Rajasthan Agricultural Competitiveness Project."
Publication date: 3/29/2012
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