Project ‘Jeevika’ a livelihood plan for small and marginal farmers

Udhampur: District Udhampur is endowed with nature’s blessings as it possesses three Agro-Climatic regions viz Sub- Tropical, Intermediate and Temperate which favours the cultivation of different crops at different elevations, farmers have very small and poor economic conditions. The irrigated area from all sources is only about 6 % of the total cultivable area; farming community is mostly dependent on rains for the cultivation of their 94 percent cultivable area. Water harvesting / conservation include all the policies, strategies and activities to sustainably manage the natural resource of fresh water, to protect the hydrosphere, and to meet the current and future human demands. Population, household size and growth and affluence are affected by water use. Factors such as climate change have increased pressures on natural water resources especially in agricultural irrigation. Many countries have already implemented policies aimed at water conservation, with much success.
Inspired by the vision of Prime Minister, for doubling the farmers income by 2022 Deputy Commissioner Udhampur Dr. Piyush Singla conceptualized a project of a multipronged strategy encompassing the key areas of water harvesting /conservation and its effective use for farming sectors to generate sustainable livelihood for farmers and rolled it as a composite project titled “JEEVIKA”. The Indian meaning of Jeevika is Water. The main objectives of this project were to harness the untapped perennial sources and thereby increasing the irrigation potential through innovative water harvesting structures, to promote efficient water use for irrigation by means of micro irrigation-drip method. To create livelihood opportunities for small and marginal farmers of the district by following an integrated farming system approach, to mobilize masses for larger participation in water conservation in the district. To promote the larger participation of farming community in the economic growth of the district with principles of integrated farming system. Jeevika project provides an integrated package to farmers with perennial sources of water at one location largely on community model. It is proposed to construct 250 number of Water Harvesting Structures for benefitting about 9000 souls 250 number of Water Harvesting Structures with 500 Micron Poly Lining are proposed to be created in all the CD Blocks of the district to utilize the untapped potential of the perennial water source on the locations duly identified/verified by the RDD and Agriculture Department covering nearly 250 number of small and marginal farmers the main activities implemented under the project are creation of Water Harvesting Structures with Poly Lining, efficient water utilization by means of Drip Irrigation, protected cultivation by tubular greenhouse structures and mulching, promotion of organic agriculture by means of vermi compositing, promotion of mushroom cultivation, capacity building and promotion of integrated farming.
The Project “JEEVIKA”, A targeted livelihood plan for small and marginal farmers through development of sustainable ecosystem by water conservation and allied activities through convergence pool to provide sustainable income and employment opportunities to small and marginal farmer community who have perennial water source nearby their field but unable to utilize it effectively.
District Udhampur is blessed with natural springs/bowlies (traditional water bodies) and other perennial water resources, the outflow/ run off from these resources were mostly untapped. Moreover, erratic rainfall patterns in the district, excessive runoff, leaching, and traditional methods of farming also add towards the low water use efficiency and thereby decrease the production productivity per unit area. Under Jeevika project approximately 16300 cubic meter of water will be conserved/harvested and put to efficient use in diversifying the Agriculture activities and approximately 59000 cubic meter of water will be recharged through 590 groundwater rechargeable ponds.
District receives annual rainfall (1100 mm to 1300mm) which is limited to only 5 months of the year i.e. July, Aug, Sept, Dec & Jan. During Kharif Season (April to Sept) there is scarcity of water as there is vary scanty rainfall due to which it is difficult to provide even the critical irrigation to the Kharif Crops, which will otherwise reduce the production and productivity of the District. In an effort to increase the water use efficiency of the water to be stored in the water harvesting structures built on the perennial sources; drip irrigation systems are being provided as part of a package under the Project “JEEVIKA” so that the Kharif crops do not suffer from moisture stress.
Under the project “JEEVIKA” it has been targeted to cater off season vegetables cultivation besides various schemes of different departments are being dovetailed in the project to achieve water conservation on one hand and put the same to effective usage through drip irrigation, the farmers are also provided poly-house, vermi-beds and mushroom trays to increase the production per unit area and improve their cropping pattern which would in turn help to increase the income of the farmers. Subsequently other departmental schemes of horticulture, sericulture, animal/sheep husbandry/fisheries, forests, and floriculture shall be converged to make a way forward towards an integrated farming system. The benefit cost ratio of project worked out in DPR is more than 1 which is appreciable.
The project “JEEVIKA” is being implemented by District administration through Rural Development Department and Agriculture Department Udhampur for mitigating the irrigation related problems to a large extent and shall serve the purpose of community participation in water conservation thereby augmenting the livelihood of small and marginal farmers of the district in near future. However, adhoc Water user associations (WUA) constituted by the PRI (Panchayat Raj Institute) is presently looking after the project.
Out of 250 cluster locations, 132 cluster sites have been identified jointly by the Agriculture & RDD team and presently work on 21 clusters constituting approx. 100 farming families of 21 panchayats of different blocks have been completed under the project in the district with a cost of Rs. 35.00 lakh and the work on other clusters is going on.
Water conservation has been promoted by way of water harvesting storage tank & rainwater harvesting. Groundwater is being recharged by way of roof top rainwater harvesting. Untapped irrigation potential is being utilized for cultivation of command areas with assured irrigation and production of cash crops. Efficient water use techniques for irrigation by means of Drip Irrigation methods have been adopted. Masses have been mobilized for larger participation in water conservation. There is larger participation of the farming community in economic growth. Sustained Livelihood opportunities for small and marginal farmers are implemented by adopting a diversified Integrated farming system approach. Adding to the above, farmers of two cluster sites viz: Malhar & Shatrimble (Chak) are reaping benefits of the project by selling their produce of vegetables in the nearby market. Cluster Site Malhar showing Tomato cultivation under Drip and mulching with poly house and vermin-bed. Jeevika cluster site Shatrimble, showing brinjal and capsicum crops grown under mulching and drip irrigation.
Moreover, the project Jeevika was launched/inaugurated by MOS PMO, Dr. Jitendra Singh and senior Officers of J&K UT including Principal Secretary, Agriculture Naveen Kumar Choudhary, Incharge Administrative Secretary Udhampur District, Sarita Chauhan, and Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Sanjeev Verma also appreciated the concept of project Jeevika and reiterated for up scaling of the project in the district for better results. Even more, the project JEEVIKA has also bagged SKOCH Award in water category at New Delhi.
During the current COVID-19 pandemic , where all sectors are under the realm of economic stress , farming communities in Udhampur practicing in the Jeevika project have smiles on their faces as they got bumper produce through this project and had good remuneration for their produce during the pandemic crisis. Beneficiaries of Jeevika projects thanked District Administration for their kind support and technical guidance which helped them to earn good remunerations of their produce during COVID crisis and they increased their income within six months.