Mangalgudem village, which is located in Khammam Rural Mandal, is one such village where groundwater completely depleted. Till 2009, farmers of this village had really a tough time for farming. Despite rains rains, the yield of green chillis was just 7 quintals per acre. As there was no irrigated water vegetables could not be grown. In such a difficult situation, Jagruti Foundation, a non-governmental organization (NGO), with the active participation of farmers of this area,initiated water conservation works.
Jagruti volunteers united the farmers of the village and educated them on the urgent need of building a check dam for conserving rainwater. They explained the benefits of water percolation into soil.They formed a Watershed Village Development Committee, head by Kona Venkateswara Rao. Because of watershed about 200 acres of land became cultivable, and paddy, chillies and vegetables are being grown there. In the past, chillis yielding used to be less than 10 quintals. With the increase of ground water level, the yielding doubled. More than 60 percent of the people took part in the construction of trenches and farm ponds. About 400 wells filled. There is no deficit of irrigation water even in summer. Prices of agricultural lands prices have soared.The cultivable area increased to 80 acres.Social change:As part of the watershed programme, NABARD gave loans to 250 landless poor for improving their livelihood. With the loan amount, by opening groceries shops, barber shops or by purchasing livestock they all have settled in satisfactory livelihood. As the groundwater levels increased lands value increased.The land that costed Rs. 2 lakhs in 2008, is now soared to Rs.12 lakhs. Economic conditions of people have also bettered. Kona Venkateswarlu, Chairman of watershed committee, said that, by growing lemon and guava along with the main crops, farmers are getting extra income. As yields increased5 farmer clubs were formed.
These are the results :
- The check dam,which was constructed across the stream, retains the water by minimising the flow rate, and thereby, about sixty acres are irrigated. As the bore dried up, Sirikonda Ramulu faced many hardships in the past. Now he is a happy farmer growing four crops in two acres.
- Because of water conservation measures, besides irrigation water people are getting drinking water too. “750 families get drinking water every day. As we constructed with our hard work check dams across the stream and trenches in the slopes, groundwater increased, and hence there is no shortage ofwater either for irrigation or for drinking,”says Burra Sitaiah. a farmer of the village.
- With the availability of irrigation, farmers have overcome the drought conditions and are receiving stable income from dairy and crops.