London: Citing examples from West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh, a Stockholm-based water management institute has said that small-scale irrigation schemes could protect  millions of farmers from food insecurity and climate risks.
    
The report by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), titled 'Water for wealth and food security: Supporting farmer-driven investments in agricultural water management'; was released at the ongoing World Water Week in Stockholm on Wednesday.
    
According to the report, expanding the use of on-farm water management techniques could increase yields up to 300 percent in some cases, and add tens of billions of US dollars to household revenues across sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
    
Researchers looked at these trends in six countries, including in India's West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh, a press release from IWMI said.
    
Tushaar Shah of IWMI said: "When farmers and those who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods are at the mercy of global food prices, water scarcity can have tragic impacts. But Indian farmers are increasingly tapping local, small-scale solutions for their water needs to great success."
    
The three-year AgWater Solutions Research Initiative unearthed for the first time the scale at which enterprising small-holder farmers themselves are driving this revolution by using their own resources innovatively rather than waiting for water to be delivered, the release said.
    
"What surprises us is not just the pace of change but how widespread it has been," Ravinder Malik, who coordinated the initiative in Madhya Pradesh, said.
    
"Farmers themselves are taking up this challenge—finding their own solutions to high start-up costs and poorly developed supply chains—because their crops cannot grow without efficient irrigation technology," he said.
    
In Madhya Pradesh's Dewas District, for instance, more than 7,000 water harvesting structures have been built by farmers on their own land and with their own financial resources within a period of less than 4 years.
    
The district administration however provided logistical support and facilitated construction of these structures, the release said.

(Agencies)

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