The Water Stewardship Programme (WSP) with the support of ITC Ltd., is designed with an aim of integrated development of the villages in the Karamadai block of Coimbatore District. With this focus, COODU initiated Water Stewardship Programme which was launched in the month of August 2015 in the Kalampalayam and subsequently implemented in Kemmarampalam, Thekkampatti, Maruthur, Velliyangadu, Nellithurai and Tholampalayam Gram Panchayats of Karamadai block of Coimbatore district with the support of ITC. During the project period efforts were taken to conserve the soil and moisture of the particular region through construction various water harvesting structures in the project locations. The overall goal of this initiative was to sustainably increase agricultural productivity and improve the livelihoods of rural poor in vulnerable rain-fed areas through integrated watershed management.
To execute multifarious activities on watershed development programs in the target areas, a special area survey was conducted. To understand the basic concepts of the project, the beneficiaries were encouraged to take part in (i) this survey and to get involved in the data collection on various existing and needed infrastructures, (ii) PRA to understand the geographical area and existing water bodies and physical structures and (iii) RRA to equip the small and marginal farmers to understand facts on catchment areas, water flow pattern, streams, channels, trenches, ponds, lakes, wells and bore wells.
Five cattle troughs were constructed to provide drinking water to the cattle each with a capacity of 2,625 litres. Water connection and Pipe fitting were done by the community through contribution. During the drought season, these cattle troughs were the only means of drinking water sources for the cattle population.
To disseminate information among the farmers to adopt soil and water conservation techniques, many sign boards and display boards were erected in main places like Markets, Cross Roads, and Panchayat Offices. The sign and display boards played a major role in promoting sustainable agriculture practices. These boards are a reminder to the farmers exhorting them to participate and contribute to the watershed development programs.
COODU has conducted 19 workshops for all stakeholders in the watersheds at various locations to share information on watershed development techniques, water management, including micro irrigation and modern agricultural practices through various modules, such as group discussions, experience sharing and documentaries.
Percolation tanks are formed on permeable soil, with the effect that stored water percolates down to ground water/ aquifers and also penetrate surrounding areas thereby recharging wells and borewells. These are mostly earthen structures, with masonry structure for spillways. To tap the percolating water in the downstream areas, wells have been dug out across streams and bigger gullies, which also impound a part of the run-off water. Totally, 71 such tanks were constructed/renovated and about 4.5 Lakh Cu.M. of soil had been desilted from these tanks.
The basic concepts of farm pond are collection of rainwater within the fields in low-lying areas and trap the silt, to provide drinking water to cattle and protective irrigation to crops at critical stages. The silt collected from ponds could be used for bunding and the percolating effect of the ponds causes water table to rise and recharge the nearby wells. In the watershed areas, 156 farm ponds have been formed so far.
From the Western Ghats, numerous natural as well as wild streams flow down. To tap the natural streams, 68 concrete check dams have been constructed. These check dams store water, arrest erosion and provide drinking water to cattle even during lean seasons.
To arrest soil erosion and to prevent run off across bunds, embankments along the periphery of farmlands were formed to stop overflows of the water from the bunds and store water within the farms with community participation.
To store rain water within the fields and cause percolation effect, trench cum bunds were formed with the use of “A” frame techniques. These trenches are covered with coconut fronds, husks, coconut coir piths and fallen leaves to reduce water vaporization and conserve soil moisture. These mulching materials increase soil organic carbon, enriching the soil and enhancing productivity.
Contour bunding is a proven, sustainable land management practice for marginal, sloping and hilly lands where the soil productivity is very low. This contour bunding is a well adopted technique made with the use of “A” frame technology.
For judicious and effective use of water, a bund is formed around a coconut tree, usually with a radius of 1.5 mts and it was covered with coconut fronds, coir piths and other mulching materials to conserve soil moisture and to reduce evaporation. Since farmers are not adopting Ring Bund systems, COODU had motivated the farmers to form and use them.
Bunds are protective components of all water resources and soil and moisture conservation measures like TCB and Ring Bund. Even after compaction, wind or rains falling on bunds cause erosion, thereby breaching the protective barrier. Hence, COODU motivated farmers to plant fodder crops on bunds and in the field, due to which, soil erosion was arrested and the farmers feed their cattle with the crops.
Natural and wild streams have to be tapped and the flowing water harvested either to replenish ground water or recharge wells and bore wells and also for use by cattle. A small cost efficient structure across the stream in required locations is suffice to arrest the flow and store water. At the same time, the flowing water should be allowed to seep through the structure so that the pressure of water does not cause a breach in the structure. A loose boulder check dam constructed in watershed areas last long and need less maintenance. It also restricts gully formation in catchment areas and helps the flow system of the streams. In the watersheds, forty loose boulder check dams have been constructed.
Efforts have been taken to form pastures in barren land by farmers, which may bring remunerative income to the farmers who may also use it to graze their cattle In Maruthur, kalampalayam, Kemmarampalayam and Thekampatti Panchayats, 1350 saplings have been planted as foreshore plantations. As tree guard, live fencing, with thorny plants have planted by Watershed User Groups.
Foreshore plantations on bunds have immense potential for green cover, avoid evaporation from bunds, controlling harmful pests, fuel and fodder for their cattle and also protect the farm crops from other cattle. The foreshore/ Bund plantation attract birds in large numbers; these provide manure; the fallen leaves good mulching material and when fruit crops are planted, its fruits also provide remunerative income to farmers.
Sediment transport is the general term used for the transport of material like clay, silt, gravels and boulders in streams. By analysing the total sediment discharge in a stream, the total volume of sediment particles in motion per unit time can be arrived at.. It includes the sediment transported by bed load motion and suspension as well as the wash load. COODU has established a monitoring unit to stop soil erosion and intervene in water flow pattern.
Irrigation water management requires timely application of the right amount of water. If there is a water shortage that can reduce yields or if there is excessive water application that can result in water logging or leaching of nitrates below the root zone, soil moisture indicator can be used to ascertain the level of moisture in soil. Competition for water, high pumping costs, and concerns for the environment are making good water management more important. To plan for the management and to promote efficient irrigation management practices such as irrigation scheduling based on soil moisture status, COODU has installed a soil moisture indicator in the target areas.
Soil testing is essentially needed to determine appropriate crops to be cultivated in a particular field. For efficient irrigation management practices such as irrigation scheduling, COODU has tested soil in 300 places. For better and economic use of bio fertilizers and better soil management practices for high crop yield, soil test is needed.
Earthworms play an important role in sustainable agriculture. Their burrowing improves soil structure. worm castings enrich the soil by converting dead plant or other organic material back into nutrients. There are two types of vermin compost making - aerobic and anaerobic methods and COODU has adopted both. Red wigglers, white worms and other earthworms are used in the units to create compost. various mixtures of decomposing vegetable and crop wastes are used as bedding materials and as food for the worms. Earthworm castings are harvested once in every forty five days.
To reduce use of chemical fertilizers and to promote bio fertilizer among the farmers, NADEP compost making was introduced in 2015-16. Harvests of high yields of vermin casting in a small rectangular brick tank, which was constructed in 2015-16 was made. Crop residues, domestic and agricultural waste are poured into the tank and when it turns into compost, it serves as bio fertilizers for organic cultivation. Using of bio fertilizers is one of the factors in sustainable agriculture practices and also it reduces the cost of cultivation. Due to the use of bio fertilizers, the harvest is high with nutrient yield.
Apart from vermin and NADEP compost units being managed for the WUAs, forty pits were dug in 2015-16 by the farmers on their own and the same was maintained by them with the proper guidance and support of COODU.
During the off season, cover crops like Kolunchi – TephrosiaPurpureaare was planted for the purpose of adding nutrients and organic matter to the soil. They are inexpensive to plant, and serve multiple purposes. They reduce soil loss from rainwater erosion, maintain soil surface infiltration, improve soil health and fix nitrogen in the soil during rain.
Farmers Field School & Demo Plots were arranged in 2015-16 and the same was used in 2016-17 also. In the demonstration plots, different type of mulching materials like Coconut Fronds, Coir Pith, Green manure and Coconut Husks were used to cover the trenches around 4 Coconut Trees and 4 Banana Trees and also 4 Coconut and 4 Banana trees without trenches for testing. Soil fertility, Soil Moisture, soils devoid of bugs and insects were taken into account and the same was explained to the farmers by TN Agricultural University and Gandhigram Rural University Professors. 26 fields was selected and made into demo plots. Key and lead farmer from each locality were selected. Nearby farmers were formed into FFS groups and training was imparted to them by the demand Management team of COODU
Among the WUGs comprising small and marginal farmers, COODU has introduced special mechanization of Chop Cutters, Power Tiller, Sprayers, Rotavator, Water Tanker, Power Weeder, among to facilitate cultivation processes and improve efficiency. One WUG has availed a tractor with trailer, with tanker. Many mechanized instruments were introduced to reduce input cost and to raise the yield.
To equip the farmers who have purchased agricultural equipments and involved in farm mechanization to work together, COODU had formed 31 groups. COODU has thus created a platform for the farmers to share their experiences and meet once a month, to discuss among themselves to seek solutions to their problems.
150 species of tree saplings were planted in a common land in Maruthur Panchayat. Fencing was done and saplings also planted by COODU. Maintenance is being done by the Panchayat and local people. Watering is done by MGNREGS workers
Activities like FFS, TCB and introduction of Water Saving Technologies made heavy impact among the farmers. During the Group Discussion and Monthly meetings they have expressed that their existing Drip Irrigation nostrils were blocked and they cannot proceed with the old systems. COODU has found solutions for their problems (special chemical has to be added with the water during watering to the plants). They stated that using a chemical during the watering has cleared the nostrils blocks. Hearing other farmers during the experience sharing meeting, farmers who have not installed drip irrigation system, asked COODU co-ordinators to arrange to get drip irrigation system installed. Accordingly, COODU discussed it with the ITC/MSK and got Drip Irrigation systems installed by approaching and arranging with the department of Agriculture at 100%. With the support of Government of Tamil Nadu, COODU has established Drip Irrigation Programs. Totally, 143 farmers have benefitted and their 370 Ha. of lands are irrigated under Drip Irrigation systems in the watershed areas. Measures such as Mulching, Ring Bund and Drip Irrigation have been replicated by other farmers on their own
COODU has highlighted the links between plant functional traits and soil properties, aiming towards ecological intensification of sustainable agriculture. To motivate farmers to reduce the cost of agricultural inputs and to develop their cattle and stop erosion in their ponds and bunds, they were encouraged to adopt fodder cultivation in their farm lands where TCB and Farms Ponds were formed. Consequently, 100 farmers had adopted fodder cultivation in their 103 ha of lands by planting fodder crops like Co. FS 29 and Cumbu Nepier. Fodder cultivation not only arrested soil erosion in the bunds, but it also provided special greeny food to the cattle. Moreover, small and marginal farmers were encouraged to form Drumstick plantation in their farms. The leaves harvested from their farms could be sold to the export merchants, where they can get good remunerative prices. The harvested Drumsticks could also be sold out to the export merchants (Gopal Export Company Ltd.)
In the 21 hamlets in the two gram panchayats, one to one and one to group interactions were held to create awareness on the watershed projects among the people of the watersheds and motivate them to participate in the projects. Wall paintings on watershed activities further created awareness and motivation.
The survey was conducted to collect data on demography, socio economic status, livelihood sources and agriculture and other activities.
PRA Exercises were conducted in four strategic locations in the watershed areas to collect information on resources, problems faced by people from all walks of life and details related to infrastructure, amenities and the requirements of the people. The exercises brought people together and motivated them to participate in watershed activities. Individual farmers / beneficiaries were identified and watershed plans were prepared with the participation of people.
The Programme staff, including community organisers, were first trained on watershed activities and watershed management by experts. Afterwards, the watershed user group members were imparted with skills and knowledge on conservation and development measures by resource persons.
All the Stakeholders / Farmers were formed into Watershed User Groups (WUG) to micromanage the watersheds. 9 WUGs have so far been formed in seven watersheds, three of which have been selected in 2016 – 17. Each WUG comprise up to 20 members. Each member give Rs. 100/- as monthly subscription to the WUG. A Corpus fund of Rs. 50,000/- has been granted to each WUG. This fund is revolved among the members for the purchase of Agricultural implements such as Sprayers, Milk Machines etc… It is given as interest free loan to members, who contribute their shares and repay the loan to the WUG.
There are Eleven Activities to conserve and develop the Watersheds.
Activities that benefit individual farmers are:
1. Trench Cum Bund.
2. Vermi Compost Making.
3. NADEP Compost.
4. Farm Ponds.
1. Cattle Trough.
2. Loose Boulder Check Dam.
3. Gabion, Minor Check Dam.
4. Major Check Dam.
5. Percolation Tanks.
6. Recharge of Wells.
7. Renovation of Existing water harvesting structures.
In an unprecedented achievement, the PIA –COODU motivated the farmers / Stake holders to contribute their share for the execution of works benefiting them individually as well as the community. For works benefiting individual farmers such as Farm Ponds and TCB, the Contribution is 20 %of total Estimate cost of the work concerned. For supply of Vermi and NADEP Compost Units, the contribution is 25 % of the estimate cost. For community works, the contribution is 5 - 15% of the estimate cost.
Marico Limited is one of India's leading consumer products companies operating in the beauty and wellness space. Currently present in 25 countries across emerging markets of Asia and Africa, Marico has nurtured multiple brands in the categories of hair care, skin care, edible oils, health foods, male grooming, and fabric care.
COODU was approached by Marico in August 2018 to create water resources and initiate intervention measures in coconut farms to increase production of coconut. The Organisation conducted a survey in the hamlets of Mullupadi, Devanampalayam, Perumpathy,Kothavadi, etc., in Kinathukadavu block for willing farmers in whose lands farm ponds are to be formed. From the survey, 39 farmers were identified Likewise, 300 farmers, in whose lands intervention measures such as Trench cum Bund(TCB) and Ring bund are proposed, were identified and their consent to carry out the measures was obtained. The following Project components were taken up and executed.
i. Farm Ponds in 39 farms
ii. TCB and Ring bund in the farms of 300 farmers.
iii. Training of farmers
i. Farm Ponds in 12 farms
ii. TCB and Ring bund in 158 farms.
iii. Training of farmers.
From all the farmers, the following documents were obtained.
1. Application from beneficiaries
2. Land particulars (Copy of ownership document, etc.)
3. Liability clause certificate from beneficiaries
4. Completion / Acknowledgement certificate from beneficiaries
5. Photo documentation (Before, During and After implementation)
6. Monthly activity report
7. Monthly financial report
8. Completion report
Wall paintings were done to create awareness on the Project and interactive meetings were held to sensitise the farmers on water use efficient practices.
Eight months from Aug 2018 to March 2019.
Farm Pond works commenced in August 2018 and completed on 30.11.2018. Works on Soil and Moisture Conservation measures were completed on 15.12.2018. Trainings were completed in January 2019.
With rainfall, Productivity and Production of coconut palms are expected to increase and consequently, the remunerative income of farmers is bound to rise.