Watershed Development is the name for a combination of techniques, for rainwater harvesting, undertaken for the overall development of a village. Watershed development is important for the overall development of a village. Stable agriculture was a dream when watershed development was started. But now people have realized that they can survive only if they follow this technique. Watershed development involves the integration of many techniques.
These techniques can be summarized as: Grassland Development, Gully Plugs, Tree Plantation, and Contour Trenching on hill tops and slopes, Contour Bunding and Plowing, Water Conservation Structures, Lift Irrigation Schemes, Land Leveling and others.
Main purpose is the optimum use of local resources for the betterment of the villages. Watershed development raises living standard of the people in villages.
In India only a small percentage of the cropped area is getting irrigation water. A large percentage of cropped area is dependent on rain. Adoption of in situ methods of soil and water conservation in all the villages with the help of government and NGOs can bring the villages to self-sufficiency.
Timely water supply is absolutely necessary for successful agriculture. Large flow irrigation projects are not possible for a large majority of villages. Hence watershed approach to development appears to the best way-out for rural development and sustainable agriculture.
Through watershed development, people from rural area can get economical returns from agricultural lands, waste lands, and lands along hill slopes. They can grow grass in hilly area and can use that as fodder for cattle. Farmers can go for dairy development. Marginal farmers and landless can start farm and off farm industry. In short adoption of this technique is an assured way of drought proofing, stabilizing agriculture and improving in living standards.
For adoption of this technique the villagers should come together. As watershed development is not a single point technique, they should prioritize the various initiatives taking into account the local conditions. Right choice of work and place ensures success, e.g., tree plantation is an important activity of watershed development and also the right choice of the species. Choose trees, which will satisfy basic needs of a village, like fruit, fodder, fuel and improvement of soil.