The Vidharbha region of Maharashtra, distributed across 11 districts (Yavatmal, Akola, Amravati, Wardha, Buldhana, Washim, Nagpur, Chandrapur, Bhandara, Gadchiroli and Gondia), is known to face severe agrarian distress. ‘Convergence of Agricultural Interventions in the distressed districts of Maharashtra’ (CAIM) is collaboration between Government of Maharashtra (GoM), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Sir Ratan Tata Trust (SRTT) to develop six of the most distressed districts of this region. As part of the programme, two rainfed clusters, distributed across 10 villages of Yavatmal district, received support from us. The approach recommended under this programme is an improvement in livelihoods through the management of natural resources and subsequent reductions in overall vulnerabilities.
Here components of integrated livelihoods were designed to alleviate rural communities. Creation of irrigation potential through rainwater harvesting, land management through multiple soil conservation measures, crop and nutrient management as part of agricultural extension and creation of enabling environments for better market linkages through collectivization were part of the practical solutions promoted under the programme. Human and institutional development were part of these interventions with capacities of three sets of institutions built at the village level – Village Development Councils (VDC), Self Help Groups (SHG) and Producer Groups. The project also paid special attention to creation of employment opportunities for women as well.
CAIM represents a unique model of convergence where Governments and national and international funding agencies have partnered with a non government organization, investing their resources and skills in developing a distressed region of the country. With one of the most vulnerable systems (rainfed areas) targeted under the programme, the impact has reached over 3000 farmers. While, environmental impacts include improvement in surface storage or harvested rainwater, enhanced soil moisture retention, improvement in the capability of land to support agriculture and allied activities and reduction in further degradation; economic impacts include an improvement in productivity and subsequent improvements in income.