BACKGROUND: A participatory watershed management approach is one of the tested, sustainable and eco-friendly options to upgrade rain-fed agriculture to meet growing food demand along with additional multiple benefits in terms of improving livelihoods, addressing equity issues and biodiversity concerns.
RESULTS: Watershed interventions at study sites in Thailand (Tad Fa and Wang Chai) and India (Kothapally) effectively reduced runoff and the associated soil loss. Such interventions at Xiaoxincun (China) and Wang Chai improved groundwater recharging and availability. Enhanced productive transpiration increased rainwater use efficiency for crop production by 13–29% at Xiaoxincun; 13–160% at Lucheba (China), 32–37% at Tad Fa and 23–46% at Wang Chai and by two to five times at Kothapally. Watershed interventions increased significantly the additional net returns from crop production as compared with the pre-watershed intervention period. Increased water availability opened up options for crop diversification with high-value crops, including increased forage production and boosted livestock-based livelihoods.
CONCLUSION: In dryland tropics, integrated watershed management approach enabled farmers to diversify the systems along with increasing agricultural productivity through increased water availability, while conserving the natural resource base. Household incomes increased substantially, leading to improved living and building the resilience of the community and natural resources. Copyright © 2011 Society of Chemical Industry