NEW DELHI, February 21, 2022 — The Government of India, the State Governments of Karnataka and Odisha and the World Bank have signed a $115 million Program that will help national and state institutions adopt improved watershed management practices to help increase farmers’ resilience to climate change, promote higher productivity and better incomes.
The $115 million Rejuvenating Watersheds for Agricultural Resilience Through Innovative Development Project will introduce modern watershed practices in the Department of Land Resources in the Ministry of Rural Development and in the two states of Karnataka and Odisha. The Program will help strengthen the states and central institutions improve their technical capacity and drive significant improvements in the quality of services delivered to farmers to help them practice resilient agriculture.
The Government of India has committed to restoring 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030 and doubling farmers’ income by 2023. Effective watershed management can help enhance livelihoods in rainfed areas, while building a more resilient food system.
The Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, stated that, “Watershed development and services is an important driver of agricultural growth. The farmers of these two states (Karnataka and Odisha) and of entire India remain highly vulnerable to natural disasters and climate change. The new program will help the state government in their efforts to transform watershed planning and execution and adopt science-based planning that will be replicated across the country. It will also help the participating and others states to adopt new approaches to watershed development.”
The agreement was signed by Shri Rajat Mishra, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance on behalf of the Government of India; Shri S.R. Umashankar, Principal Secretary, Agriculture Department on behalf of the Government of Karnataka; Shri Sanjeev Chopra, Additional Chief Secretary, Agriculture and FE Department on behalf of the Government of Odisha; and Junaid Ahmad, Country Director, India on behalf of the World Bank.
“The COVID-19 pandemic accentuated the need for sustainable and risk-averse agriculture in India which both protects farmers from climate uncertainties and strengthens their livelihood. While a robust institutional architecture for watershed development already exists in India, renewed focus on science-based, data-driven approaches implemented through this project can offer new opportunities for farmers in the face of climate change,” said Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director in India. “The project will help the Government of India to continue to ensure food security for the nation and for the states of Karnataka and Odisha, in particular, to build their resilience to climate change.”
Highlights of the results that will be achieved under the program:
· Strengthened institutions and supportive policy for watershed development
The Program will support capacity building and performance-based monitoring of Gram Panchayats and Watershed Development Committees in watershed development activities; support Karnataka to become a ‘lighthouse’ state to share its learnings and experience in watershed development from global projects as well as from the recently closed Karnataka Watershed Development Project-II to other states; and development of national policies and standards.
· Science-based watershed development for climate resilience and enhanced livelihoods
The Program will support science-based watershed planning and help create digital data library in states; help farmer collectives adopt resilient agriculture technologies and practices; and integrate Public Private Partnership models to support farmers to have access to agro-processing infrastructure and marketing.
“India has one of the largest watershed management programs in the world. The Bank has been supporting India’s successful adoption of new innovative approaches and technologies over the past two decades,” said Priti Kumar and Satya Priya, World Bank’s Team Leaders for the program. “The REWARD Program will further advance this progress by developing and applying comprehensive spatial data and technologies, decision support tools, and knowledge exchanges. Lessons learned will be shared across states and other countries to transfer and scale up good practices.”
The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) financing will support Karnataka with $60 million, Odisha with $49 million, and the remaining $6 million will be for the central government’s Department of Land Resources. The $115 million loan has a maturity of 15 years, including a grace period of 4.5 years.