Impact on Crop Intensity

Impact of the project on the crop intensity.
Impact of the project on the crop intensity.

Another important measure of success of recharge is in increasing the cropping intensity. Large storage for recharge can be justified if the cropping intensity increases appreciably – say to 200-250%. But the cropping data in all the villages studied suggest that this is not so. The Rabi area has remained more or less static (as in previous years of normal rainfall), as water level in the wells is not considered adequate for area expansion under irrigated agriculture. Even in Rabi, larger share of the area is accounted for by Cotton crop that is actually planted in Kharif.

Since cotton area cannot be replanted due to longer crop duration, the cropping intensity increase can come only from replanting Kharif area under groundnut and other short duration crops. RS data for three years shows that even in a good year-98-99, fresh area planted in Rabi area was only 40%. In following two years it was 7 and 2.75%. Of 1,500 acres classified as irrigated land, only 453 acres or nearly a third got irrigation in Rabi in a good year.

Even in a good year when the aquifer is fully recharged, the farmers of RS do not seem to feel secure enough (in terms of water for irrigation) to risk extensive Rabi planting. The choice of crops in the Kharif season largely centers round Groundnut and Cotton with the former taking a larger share on account of the crop’s ability to provide fodder for livestock while cotton is selected due to better prices it fetches. The shift between cotton and groundnut is mainly due to these two factors. Since all planting decisions for Kharif are taken before the onset of the monsoon, it can be argued that previous year’s market prices have a major role in determining the relative area allocation between groundnut and Cotton, and not water availability for irrigation. However towards the end of the Kharif season, there was not enough recharge in the wells to irrigate cotton leave alone any Rabi planting. Surface water storage created for recharge therefore did not contribute to increase in the cropping intensity either in Dudhala or in RajSamadhiyala.