Watershed approach is the only vehicle for achieving twin objectives of enhancing production while simultaneously preserving natural resource base. Moreover, It is the proper management unit as it handles, manages collectively, effectively and simultaneously all the natural resources.
1. Poor Socio-economic condition
Over 75% population of the state lives in rural areas, depends on agriculture & livestock production for their livelihood and subsistence. Per capita income in rural areas is significantly below the national average, with 17% of rural population estimated as living below the poverty line.
The rural livelihoods are dependent on natural resources. In Rajasthan erratic rainfall, poor soil fertility, land degradation, lack of improved rainfed varieties, poor knowledge base on improved technology, resource poor farmers, low farm productivity and income levels are the major problems. The challenge therefore is to improve the rural livelihoods and alleviate poverty by managing the natural resources along with supplementary rural agro based income-generating schemes.
2. Degraded Land Resources
Rajasthan, covering 342 lac ha is the largest state of India. Over 60% of the total area of the state is desert "The Thar" and about two-third of which is heavily subjected to wind erosion. The soils in this region are sandy poor in water holding capacity and with poor nutrient status, resulting in low productivity The south-east area and eastern part of Aravali hills is productive for agriculture having better soil types but heavily prone to water erosion.
Due to increased pressure on land, poor agriculture practices, overgrazing and intensive use of agriculture land, overall degradation of land is progressive at an alarming rate in Rajasthan. Out of total geographical area of the State, only 35 lac ha area of state is under assured means of irrigation (canals & tube wells). About 263 Lac ha. land is rainfed comprising of 151 Lac ha. arable land & 112 lac ha. non arable land .This includes about 105 Lac ha. of wasteland of various categories.
Table No.1-Status of landuse pattern in Rajasthan
||Land Use Details
||Area (in lacs)
||% Of total area |
||Total Geographical area
||Non agriculture use
||Barren & unculturable land
||Area unfit for cultivation (3+4)
||Land under misc trees crops & groves
||uncultivated land excluding fallows (6+7+8)
||Net Area sown
||Gross area sown
||Net area Irrigated
||Gross Area irrigated
||Cultivable land (6+10+11)
||Rainfed cultivable land (6+10+11-13)
Source: Agriculture Statics 2005-06 (Varies from year to year)
3. Vast Wastelands
Based on the study of data obtained by NRSA, Hyderabad, Rajasthan has about 101 lac ha. (30 % of the state area) under wastelands of different categories.
Desertic sand covers the maximum area with 29 % of total wastelands in the State. Different wasteland categories are unevenly distributed in 31 districts of the State. All the eleven western districts have desertic sands while districts falling along Aravalli hill ranges and Vindhyans have degraded forest or scrublands, land with or without scrub and barren rocky areas. Ravine areas are restricted to banks of different rivers, flowing in the districts of Jhalawar, Kota, Bundi, Baran, Dholpur, Jaipur, Tonk, Dausa and Alwar.Salt affected lands occur in area nearby to all the salt pans situated in different parts of western Rajasthan as well as agricultural fields, which have inherent problem of salinity or are irrigated with saline waters.
CATEGORY WISE WASTELANDS OF RAJASTHAN
4. Scarce Water Resources
Rajasthan has barely 1.16 % of the water resources of the country as against its 11% share in total geographical area.
The rivers of Rajasthan, except for the Chambal, are ephemeral and flow only during the rainy season. The Aravalli ranges which run across the State from the south-west to the north-east direction largely influence the drainage system of the State. While a major part of western Rajasthan has an inland drainage system, the southern, the south-eastern and eastern parts have a well developed drainage system. Average annual rainfall ranges from 150 mm in the west part to 900 mm in the east. Precipitation during the monsoon is highly erratic from year to year. Nearly70% of net cropped area in the state is semi arid and receives less than 600 mm annual rainfall. A large fraction of precipitation goes waste as runoff without being tapped for surface storage & recharging of aquifers. Due to scarcity of surface water, Rajasthan to a great extent, depends on ground water resources. Due to extensive use of ground water for irrigation and its inadequate recharge, water level is depleting at an alarming rate of 1-1.5 meter per year posing a serious threat. Hence, available rainfall needs to be conserved & harvested in order to meet out drinking, agricultural requirements.
5. Huge but unproductive Livestock resources:
Animal Husbandry is not merely subsidiary to Agriculture but is a major economic activity, especially in the arid and semi-arid areas, providing much needed insurance against frequently occurring scarcity conditions. Low productivity, across all species of Livestock, is a major development constraint. Almost 60% of all cattle and about 80% of buffaloes are non-descript and have very low milk and work output. Growth in milk production is extremely slugging.
The productivity of the livestock is low due to lack of adequate pastures and fodder resources besides improved breeds. There is no scope for increasing the area under cultivated fodder crops, rather there has been shrinkage in the extent of grazing lands due to extension of cultivation of marginal lands for crops. The situation is further aggravated by the increasing population of unproductive cattle.
Pasture development works under watershed development schemes can put degraded wastelands, community lands and sand dunes under vegetative cover and improve such lands and help in providing sufficient fodder.