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    Andhra Pradesh Farmer Managed Groundwater Systems Project
  APFAMGS Project :  


Participatory Hydrological Monitoring has been a strategy adopted by the project to transform individual groundwater users to water resource literates. Based on the knowledge, the farmers have started appreciating the causes leading to groundwater level changes, rainfall-recharge relationship, pumping capacity of borewells and water requirement for different types of crops.

2026 observation wells (one well for every sqkm) have been established for monitoring the well characteristics. Fortnightly water level monitoring are carried out by farmer volunteer's (both women and men farmers).

Daily rainfall measurement is collected from rain gauge stations distributed for every 5sq.kms in the project area. Rainfall Measurement is carried out by farmers themselves after establishing over 190 rain gauge stations in the project area spread over 65 drainage units. The rain gauge stations are so located as to record even the smallest variations in rainfall distribution. The rainfall measurement volunteers are both men and women farmers who have donated that piece of land


Structure of the project

Project ActivitiesGlobal Relevance of APFAMGS Project Project USPPeople's InstitutionsGender ManistreamingEnhancing Farmers KnowladgeParticipatory Hydrological Monitoring (PHM) Farmers Water Schools Crop Water BudgetingReduction in Groundwater Pumping Abstaining from PaddyCrop DiversificationUse of Water Saving DevicesFood Security and NutritionEmergence of Local Groundwater GovernanceCreation of Trained Manpower Optimization of Food Flows Through Artificial groundwater Recharge (AGR)Geographic Information System (GIS)Data Base (HRIS+)Information KioskAPFAMGS websiteImpact of Project Implementation Benefits of adopting Crop Change Farmer's Reflections

Future Work Plan


where rain gauge is established and have also qualified after successfully undergoing technical training. Rainfall is recorded religiously at 08.30 hrs across the project and the same displayed for the farmers to take decisions related to all agricultural operations. Knowledge of rainfall data has also enabled the farmers to understand the recharge promoting rainfall events.

To understand the pumping capacity of the borewells the farmers carry out discharge measurement. Along with the discharge measurement, water level measurements are also recorded. Discharge measurements are carried out by the farmers in over 700 monitoring observation wells. This is accomplished by measuring the time taken to fill a known capacity of drum. Along with the discharge the farmers also measure the drawdown. Based on the measurement the farmers have a good understanding of the pumping capacity of the wells, well performance, water requirement for different crops and the ways and means to increase the water use efficiency.

To qualify to be a volunteer the farmers have to undergo training (4 modules) and only the successful candidates are eligible to become a PHM volunteer. The rigorous training is only to ensure that there is no dilution in technical observations. The volunteers are provided with measuring tools like electrical water level indicator, stop watch, measuring drums ets (which is shared by number of volunteers).

Volunteers maintain a log book of Hydrological Monitoring Records (HMR). The HMR data is also exhibited for public viewing on display boards maintained at strategic locations in the Habitation.

Seasonal groundwater quality measurements are carried out from public drinking water wells.

APFAMGS adopts the FWS approach to prepare the farmers to take charge of managing their ground water. FWS is an adaptation from the Farmer Field School (FFS) and follows the non-formal and participative approach for information sharing. FWS strategy adopted by APFAMGS project promotes group learning, improves the skills and capacities of farmers and shares knowledge amongst the farmers. This approach has been implemented beginning from June 2006 to May 2007 as part of First Water School to diagnose the different problems related to groundwater depletion, and implement local solutions for arresting the groundwater decline, improving water use efficiency and enhancing the returns from the cropping system. The second FWS have been initiated in 2007-08 attended by 10,000 farmers.

Under the FWS umbrella all 10,000 farmers meet once every 15 days through 300 water schools to understand groundwater changes in the respective area for the entire hydrological season. Based on the understanding the farmers adopt suitable modification in their agricultural practices that can lead to significant reductions in groundwater use.

The over arching theme or the guiding principle of the project is to demystify science, and equip farmers with the technical knowledge of how to collect, manage and use scientific information about water to make agriculture sustainable. The project has achieved this very successfully.

As part of Crop Water Budgeting (CWB) the farmers collectively make their crop plans, depending upon water availability. Following the agriculture season, a survey is conducted on crop adoption which is also discussed in the GMC to analyse the impact of the CWB and crop adoption. The project does not want to limit the choices that farmers can make in terms of the crops that can be grown in a particular Hydrological Unit, rather the emphasis is on improving the water use efficiency (less water for more productivity). The project does not advocate changes in crops being grown traditionally or for commercial gain. The project respects the farmer's traditional knowledge and understands that the farmer has enough knowledge to be able to take relevant decisions.

Although the emphasis is on water efficient methods and examples of use of water saving devices namely drips, sprinklers and rain guns are seen as a follow-up to better awareness levels, examples of cultivation of water intensive crops can also be found. In some places GMC's and HUN's are able to act as pressure groups to advocate for change in cropping, use of sustainable agricultural practices and water saving technologies.

Availability of two year data from number of Hydrological units shows that groundwater pumping for agricultural use has been significantly reduced by a number of farmers in the project area. In 14 hydrological units groundwater pumping has been reduced as compared to earlier years while in 9 hydrological units there is moderation in pumping. In all the hydrological units a number of farmers have reduced pumping, yet it is not significant enough to have a drainage basin level impact.

The most preferred crop in the seven districts forming part of the project area is the high water requirement crop paddy and in small amount sugar cane. Even while groundwater levels continue to fall steeply, paddy still continues to be the preferred crop by all groundwater users be it big, medium or small farmers. Knowledge on the groundwater crisis by the farmers in the project area prompted the GMC's and HUN's to develop crop plans that addressed the issue of water use. The crop plans developed after the water balance estimation is to devise strategies in reducing the groundwater pumping from the wells. One of the water saving method adopted by the farmers has been by abstaining from paddy cultivation. Except for 4 hydrological units al the others have reduced area under paddy cultivation ranging from a few acres to several hundred acres. Thus a 50% reduction in area under paddy has been witnessed over the project area.

Crop diversification have been adopted by the farmers as part of water saving and reducing groundwater pumping. Crop diversification has looked at crops (traditional as well as new) which can be integrated within the existing cropping system. Pulses, oil seeds, fruits, vegetables, flowers have all become part of cropping system. A two fold increase in the crop varieties is now seen. Farmers have become market savy to offset reduced groundwater pumping. The risks associated with commercial crops like monoculture, reduced area under food crops, loss in soil fertility, are also being addressed simultaneously.

The farmers have started adopting water saving devices in order to reduce water losses. Issues of conveyance through pipelines, reduction of Evapo-transpiration, increased retention of soil moisture have been successfully addressed. Water saving devices such as Sprinkler and Drip Irrigation have been introduced for crops like Groundnut, Sunflower, Bengal Gram, Chilies and horticultural crops. Conveyance pipelines have been implemented by most farmers. An assessment shows that 8.26% of groundwater pumping has been reduced over the project area only by adopting water savings techniques. Savings have been equivalent 10.25 MCM over the project area in two years, 2005-07. Techniques for improving the moisture retention have been adopted which includes Border strip, Ridge & furrow Check basin, Alternate furrow, Vermicompost, Mulching, Double ring method Paddy husk mulching etc.

Achievement of Food Security and improved nutrition is kept in the centre stage while making cropping plans. The project has been carrying out Food and nutrition status assessment in all the 650 habitations. The survey is carried out by the community themselves to assess the extent of area under of food crops, expenditure on food crops and number of government programmes focused on food and nutrition availed. Major findings showed clear shift from food crops to cash crops and decline in meal diversity. Close to 45% of children availed of the Mid Day meal schemes of the government and improved their health and nutrition.

The survey results are discussed in the habitation meetings, to promote the appropriate interventions in improving food security and nutritional status and overcome micro- nutrient deficiencies. In order to ensure protection of wild fruits and vegetables that have high nutritional value, the project carried out a detailed inventory and compiled them in the book “Nourishing Traditions” .

Improved knowledge base of Farmers and conduct of Annual Crop Water Budgeting exercise provided clear understanding of the groundwater resource availability. Equipped with the groundwater resource data, the farmers from 650 habitations developed crop plan for the Rabi season (Oct-Jan -05-06, 06-07) for over 65,000 acres of land, all dependent on groundwater. Using the acquired knowledge the farmers ensured adherence to the crop plans that promoted only less water requiring crops, avoided any groundwater wastage, improved water use efficiency and adopted new water saving devices.

Adopting a new approach the stakeholders for first time brought into operation new groundwater governance that transgressed beyond individual holdings and habitations, yet was not coercive. The invisibility of the groundwater resource did not deter them from having full access to understanding the resource availability and dynamics. The ability of the stakeholders to articulate and share the information across the hydrological unit helped them to evolve common strategies that limiting the damage while at the same time safeguarding individual interest. New form of local governance on groundwater has thus emerged comprising of farmer stake holders who have a concern on the sustainability of groundwater and see a need to come together and take painful decisions on their own without waiting for the governments to do.

Farmer Water Schools have provided a platform for developing a cadre of village level trainers who are fully equipped to bring in the Demand Side Management approach for managing groundwater crisis. The Farmer Water School has looked beyond the traditional elite in taking knowledge to the common farmers who can apply them directly on farm and also share them with a larger audience. The project has successfully created the first batch of over 10,000 farmers who have already emerged as trainers to other farmers both under the project programme as well as for the government run Farmer Field School.

Crop Water Balance (CWB) exercise carried out in the project shows that 59 of the 63 Hydrological Units show groundwater development far more than recharge resulting in deficit water balance. The CWB has also identified over exploited aquifers. To improve the groundwater situation in favourable basins flood flows have been trapped in natural depressions like tanks/ponds. The flood waters have been directly routed to the over-exploited aquifers using injection wells. This approach has helped managed the floods, while increasing recharge to highly over-exploited aquifers. In number of areas abandoned open wells have also been used to trap the flood flows and transfer them to the aquifers.

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