A water tank, constructed utilising NREGS funds in Gandhasiri village ,(Right) A farm pond in Gandhasiri village
Khammam: Gandhasiri village, contrary to what its name connotes - affluence springing from sandalwood, has not much to offer to its residents whose major occupation is farming. Forget about sourcing water from a nearby tank (Oora cheruvu) that rarely fills up, farmers in this village don’t have water even to quench the thirst of their cattle. Although largely underestimated, livestock often forms a vital component of the means of cultivation among farming households.
The farmers of Gandhasiri village under the Mudigonda mandal, situated 25 km south of district headquarters, Khammam, are dependent mainly on rain-fed cultivation.
Issues concerning abject poverty and failure of crops are common in this part of the district. Neither the nearby stream nor the Oora cheruvu has been able to address the irrigation needs of the parched lands in this village. Even though the local tank was restored under the Mission Kakatiya, it rarely receives inflows that are sufficient to salvage farming in the region.
Against this backdrop, Jalli Jayamma, who has just one acre to make a living, has now become a beacon of hope to others as she had a farm pond dug up in her land under NREGS last year.
Speaking to The Hans India, Jayamma said: “Earlier, we (the villagers) did not have water even to prepare emulsion of pesticides. Since I got a farm pond, admeasuring 8*8 meters and 2 meters deep, constructed under soil and moisture conservation programme using NREGS funds, it has helped not only me, but also farmers in adjacent fields.”
Khammam District Rural Development Officer V Muralidhar Rao said: “Despite the widespread campaign encouraging water conservation practices, farmers who have been traditionally relying on tanks, streams and the Nagarjuna Sagar Project (NSP) Left Canal are yet to switch to farm ponds. We are trying to bring awareness about farm ponds and other water conservation methods among farmers.”
The grouse among some officials is that many farmers are reluctant to go for farm ponds, though the government has been providing them resources free of cost under NREGS. Farmers, especially those with small landholdings, are not ready to spare a piece of land for farm ponds. This apart, the high cost of land is another reason behind marginal farmers not opting for farm ponds.
Gandhasiri village NREGS field assistant M Hymavathy said that the construction of farm ponds and soak pits in the village was yielding excellent results. Apart from ensuring hygienic conditions, the soak pits had also contributed to an increase in the groundwater levels in the village, notwithstanding deficit rainfall in the region.
Referring to another farm pond in the land of J Laxmaiah of the village, she said that it was also storing water till January quenching the thirst of the cattle. Livestock enhanced the economic viability and sustainability of a farming system, she added.