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Rejuvenating resilience in the agrarian livelihood of Western Indian Himalayan region - A water perspective

IWRA 2021 Online Conference One Water, One Health
Theme 2: How can managing water in agriculture contribute to food security and public health?
Author(s): Mr Partik Kumar, Mr Mohit Rangi, Rohtak Mr Kulvinder Singh

Mr Partik Kumar - Revitalising Rainfed Agriculture Network
Mr Mohit Rangi - Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak
Mr Kulvinder Singh - Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai

Keyword(s): Protective irrigation, Nutri Cereals, Spring, Nutrition, Himachal Pradesh


The study was consulted to understand, whether and how the enhancing of protective irrigation through the revival of the spring system can help in achieving nutrition security in the Western Indian Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh. The primary research questions were, how climate change is impacting the production of Nutri cereals in the state of Himachal Pradesh. And, how protective irrigation can be enhanced through the mountain springs system to achieve the nutrition security and food sovereignty of the state with the preview of state financial viability.

The agrarian livelihood in Himachal Pradesh is 87% rainfed. Climate change in the form of precipitation and temperature is drastically impacting food production in the state. The average length of dry spell had almost doubled in the past 30 years and also there is a three-fold rise the extreme weather events like flash flood and hailstorms. This had impacted the traditional food system of the state, which in return is negatively reflecting in human health. To fulfil the production gaps, the state is procuring relatively less nutrition-rich food grains (like rice and wheat) from other states of India and distributing them to families under a state-sponsored public distribution system (PDS). This had helped in maintaining the state-level food security but drastically affected nutrition security and food sovereignty.

A Mixed-method approach was adopted to conduct this study and Multi-stage sampling was used during this study. The study region was confined to 3 districts (25% of total) of the western Indian Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh. The districts were selected based on the population, net cultivable area, average slope and agro-ecological zones. The sampling for the respondents was stratified sampling based on the landholding and family size. The survey, FGDs and semi-structured interviews were used as a research tool for this study. This study was conducted between September 2019 to July 2020.

Over the last 30 years, more than 54% of the traditional water sources i.e. mountain springs dried up due to various climatic and anthropogenic reasons. The same had resulted in an 87% decrease in the cultivation of Nutri cereals like millets as well as pulses. A cumulation of these had deeply affected human health in the state. According to the data, 53.3% of women and children are anaemic. Also, 31.3% and 17.6% of children under the age of 5 years are stunned and wasted in the state.

Whereas, a marginal additional investment of 3% can help in attain the state wide protective irrigation to the Nutri cereals and the same can result in increasing the productivity by 67%. Which in return can be filled in the house hold consumption and the desired nutrition level in terms of iron, calcium and Vitamin A.

A comprehensive program and marginal additional investment for ensuring the protective irrigation can lead to nutrition security in the state and the same can be extended to achieve the food sovereignty, climate resilience and income enhancement of farming families in Himachal Pradesh.

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