17 May 2023, India: The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), the Groundwater Surveys and Development Agency (GSDA), and the Water Supply and Sanitation Department, Government of Maharashtra have signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) on May 16, to propel a new era in groundwater augmentation across seven districts in Maharashtra using a landscape approach.
Mr Chintamani Joshi (IAS), Commissioner of GSDA, expressed his enthusiasm about collaborating with a world-class organization like ICRISAT. He emphasized on the pressing need to enhance agriculture water use efficiency and conserve vital groundwater resources.
“This agreement aims to fulfil the needs and requirements of farmers. In the face of climate uncertainties and excessive groundwater extraction, this partnership with ICRISAT will usher in a new era in dryland agriculture in Maharashtra,” said Mr Joshi.
This collaborative initiative titled ‘Water budget based NRM planning and groundwater recharge’ uses a landscape approach for groundwater augmentation. The initiative is mapped to Atal Bhujal Yojana, a flagship program of the Government of India’s Jal Shakti Mantralaya. This initiative will directly benefit more than 3000 farming families covering 10,000 ha with a population of more than 13,000 across seven districts viz., Satara, Solapur, Pune, Latur, Jalna, Nasik and Nagpur. Large-scale indirect benefits include various ecosystem services and strengthening the capacity of various stakeholders.
Project discussions prior to the MoU signing.
Dr Jacqueline Hughes, Director General of ICRISAT, conveyed her delight in working together with the Government of Maharashtra.
“With ICRISAT’s decades of experience and expertise in agricultural water management, we are committed to making a positive impact on the lives of farmers and the environment. We look forward to working hand in hand with the Government of Maharashtra. Together, we will pave the way for a more resilient and prosperous agricultural sector, ensuring a sustainable agri-food system for generations to come.” said Dr Hughes.
Dr Arvind Kumar, Deputy Director General-Research at ICRISAT, thanked the Government of Maharashtra and Mr Sanjay Jaiswal (IAS), Principal Secretary of the Water Supply and Sanitation Department, GoM, for providing this opportunity.
Dr Kumar added, “We eagerly anticipate close collaboration with the Government of Maharashtra in the field of water conservation and the establishment of learning sites in the seven districts. The knowledge gained from these sites can also benefit other regions in India and beyond”
This initiative is unique as it surpasses mere water conservation efforts by aiming to transform dryland agri-food systems through an integrated systems approach at the landscape level. Spanning the entire value chain, from seed to market, this approach capitalizes on the core strengths of ICRISAT across its three global research programs.
Through this landmark partnership, ICRISAT and GSDA strive to usher in a transformative approach to agricultural water management, enabling sustainable farming practices and securing water resources for future generations.
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