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Rotary-led water conservation program awarded US$2 million to help farmers in India

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New Delhi: With limited irrigation facilities in India, many farmers are dependent on rainfall, leaving them vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Extreme weather events like droughts, floods, and storms affect soil fertility, crop yields and livestock production – all of which have led to reduced productivity and income for farmers.

To improve water resource management and farming practices in India, a Rotary club-led initiative is making significant strides to help farmers improve their harvests, increase yields, and raise their incomes to help them enhance conditions for their families and create more resilient communities.

Rotary members, experts and technical advisors will collaborate with local and national governments to strengthen farmers’ capacity at the community level in four states – Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra.

The program aims to:

–  increase groundwater tables by 10-15 percent each year,

–  extend the area of cultivation by 20-30 percent by increasing the availability of water,

–  improve the incomes of approximately 60,000 farmers by an estimated 25-30 percent,

–  introduce drip irrigation to reduce soil erosion on 4,113 hectares (more than 10,000 acres) of land by planting native species and fruit trees.

“In a country where only 50 percent of the arable land is irrigated, I have seen the plight of farmers who pray fervently to the rain gods so that they may have enough bountiful harvest and enough income to survive till the next crop. I have seen the distress in families of the marginalized farmers in years of failed monsoons. Making more water available is the panacea for the more than half of the population that subsists on agriculture”, said Sudhanshu Pachisia, Club President of the program sponsor Rotary Club of Delhi Premier.

Throughout India, Rotary clubs have supported the construction of rainwater harvesting structures and improved irrigation, which allow farmers to harvest crops more than once per year and increase yields.

‘Partners for Water Access and Better Harvests in India’ is Rotary’s fourth Programs of Scale recipient – an annual competitive grant process that awards US$2 million to an evidence-based program that aligns with one of Rotary’s causes and has the capability for scaling-up to help more people. The programs are sponsored by Rotary members in collaboration with local communities and partner organizations.

“Congratulations to the Rotary Club of Delhi Premier and their partners for taking action on their vision to empower rural communities in India to improve their crops and increase their yields through water security and climate-resilient practices,” said Rotary International President Gordon McInally. “With these life-saving and sustainable innovations, farmers can now begin to plant the seeds for a healthier and more hopeful future.”

Rotary members throughout the world develop and implement sustainable, community-driven projects that fight disease, promote peace, provide clean water, support education, help mothers and children, grow local economies and protect the environment. Over the last 100 years, US $5.5 billion has been awarded through The Rotary Foundation – Rotary’s charitable arm that helps clubs work together to perform meaningful, impactful service.

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