The Andhra Pradesh government is launching the Rejuvenating Watersheds for Agriculture Resilience through Innovative Development (REWARD) project in five parched districts and also the tribal belt in Visakhapatnam district of the state, to be implemented over the next six years.
The total project cost is Rs 200 crore of which the World Bank will fund Rs 140 crore.
The state government will spend Rs 60 crore. The state Cabinet, at its meeting here last week, cleared the project to be implemented in the four Rayalaseema districts of Anantapuramu, Chittoor, Kadapa and Kurnool besides Prakasam in south coastal AP. The tribal belt in Visakhapatnam district will also be covered under the project.
The REWARD project will be implemented in Karnataka and Odisha apart from AP, with the World Bank lending a sum of USD 178 million for the three states.
The total project cost in the three states is estimated to be USD 350 million. Efficient water management, soil fertility improvement, adoption of standard agricultural practices and enhancement of cultivation are some of the salient features of the proposed project.
Protection of water resources in areas of scarcity and optimum utilisation of water using proper management techniques will be the key features of the project.
Watersheds will be developed in a scientific manner using remote sensing and GIS technology, which will benefit the farmers, according to Panchayat Raj and Rural Development Commissioner M Girija Shankar.
The project would be implemented on a convergence mode involving different departments and also the MGNREGP, he said.
AP Space Applications Centre, Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University, IIT-Tirupati and the National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning would partner with the state government in implementing the project, he said.
The Commissioner said land resources index (LRI), hydrological assessment and groundwater management database pertaining to two lakh hectares in the selected districts would be created as part of the REWARD project.
“We will create 14 model watersheds for 50,000 hectares of land on a pilot basis and also 52 micro watersheds based on LRI and hydrological data. We will distribute LRI cards and weather-based agricultural advisories to one lakh small farmers,” Girija Shankar said.