Improving water use for dry season agriculture by marginal and tenant farmers in the Eastern Gangetic Plains

Project code
AUD 2,510,502
Project leader
Erik Schmidt - University of Southern Queensland
Commissioned organisation
University of Southern Queensland
SEP 2014
JUN 2019
Project status
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This project aimed to improve livelihoods for women, marginal and tenant farmers in the eastern Gangetic Plains through improving dry season irrigated agriculture.

The eastern Gangetic Plains, which include the Nepal Tarai, Bihar and West Bengal regions, is one of the most densely populated and poverty-stricken belts in South Asia. Behind this persistent poverty are deeply entrenched social structures of class and caste, with a high incidence of inequitable landlord-tenant relations. This is combined with poor access to irrigation water in the dry season, limited irrigation capacity, and low agricultural innovation.

Poverty is linked to access to water. Technical, social and economic constraints have limited the effective use of groundwater and ponds for irrigation, and large areas of land remain fallow during the dry months. Access to year-round water for irrigation would significantly promote the productivity of agriculture, improving incomes and food security.

Project outcomes

  • Determined existing water resources and sustainable utilisation for irrigation from tanks and groundwater.
  • Determined the socio-economic, structural and institutional constraints to sustainable water use.
  • Determined and evaluated approaches for access to water for irrigation, focusing on using renewable technologies and alternate approaches to land tenure, and their impact on livelihoods and resilience.
  • Facilitated long term up-scaling and out-scaling of approaches and alternative opportunities.
Key partners
Bangladesh Rice Research Institute
Centre for the Development of Human Initiatives
CSIRO Land and Water
Department of Irrigation
Indian Council of Agricultural Research
International Water Management Institute
National University of Singapore
Nepal Groundwater Resources Development Board
Uttar Banga Krishi Vishwavidyalaya
Cover project summary lwr/2012/079
Project summary LWR/2012/079