10 acres of land and a dug well of 32 feet are two assets that Raju Uttamrao Eche can be pride of.. While 7 acres are diverted towards cultivation of soya bean, 3 acres are put to the cultivation of cotton. Purely dependent on rainfall his crops are often victims of its erratic nature. Since both rainfall and availability of water from his dug well are unreliable, he tends to confine himself to a kharif crop, underutilizing the potential of his land by keeping it idle for the remaining part of the year. Excessive runoffs in the upper catchment also do not contribute to the recharge of his well.
He came in contact with the programme through a watershed project being implemented in his village. Based on meetings with the Village Watershed Committee and the location of his field vis-à-vis the watershed, his dug well was finalized as one of the five observation wells in his village.
A reluctant farmer, constant hand holding was required to maintain ground water records at his observation well. However, daily recordings of the data, and observing changes in groundwater levels with the season he began to take a keen interest in the programme. Courtesy the success of water conservation measures implemented through a watershed programme in his village, he began to take note of improvements in groundwater levels especially during the rabi and summer seasons. Along with Water budget estimations taking into consideration groundwater levels in his well, planning of crops for his field was also streamlined.
Eche is now the owner of an asset that reaps dividends. He has taken to cultivation of a second crop. He has diverted 3 acres of his land under soya bean to the cultivation of a mixed crop of vegetable and orange and the entire tract under cotton to orange. Caution instilled in him during the water budget estimations, however have guided him towards the adoption of water reducing irrigation practices. Although he cannot claim to have reduced groundwater drafts from his well, the adoption of drip and sprinkler irrigation in both his kharif and rabi crop is definitely a step in the direction of using groundwater more sustainably. Wisely utilizing his water during the kharif also ensures that he can provide at least critical irrigation to a summer crop.