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Agar, Madhya Pradesh
         
Agro-ecological Zone : Central Highlands, Malwa Plateau   Project Districts :

Shajapur and Ujjain

River basin : Lakhundar, Garhganga and Kalisindh   Mean Annual Rainfall : 950mm
Major Soil Types : Loamy to clayey and deep black   Forest Types : Tropical Dry Deciduous and Scrub Forests
Major Habitats : Grasslands, Agriculture lands, Forests   Nearest Protected Area : Kheoni Wildlife Sanctuary
Threatened Species : Adina cordifolia, Dolichandronefalcata, Indian Wolf and Striped Hyena   Percentage of Common Lands including Forest : 25%
Percentage of People Living below Poverty Line : 42%   Percentage of Scheduled Castes/Tribes : 30%
Area under Protection : 7603 ha   Village Institutions Associated With : 59
Total Households of Project Villages : 5,818   Indigenous Communities : Bhilala (1.3%)

Description

The Agar project is located in the catchment area of the River Lakhundar. Spread over the districts of Shajapur and Ujjain, the landscape is marked by small, staggered hillocks and narrow valleys. The area is part of the Malwa plateau famous for the draught breed of cattle called 'Malwi'. While the forest area comprises a mere 1%, common lands occupy 25% of the area and support the fodder and grazing needs of the livestock-dependent local communities. Agriculture and animal husbandry are the two major occupations of the people in this region.

Our association with the region dates back to 1996.Currently, we are engaged with 59 village institutions that protect and manage 7,603 hectares of common land. Measures to conserve soil and water, and to protect common lands by improved grass cover and growth of natural rootstock of tree species such as Buteamonosperma, Diospyrosmelanoxylonand bushes of Carissa carandas(Karonda), have improved the availability of fodder, fuel wood and Karonda fruit, which are an important source of livelihood for the poor.

Construction of numerous water-harvesting structures has made water available for human and livestock needs, as well as recharged shallow wells in the down stream, leading to a marked increase of area under double cropping. Seeing the need to implement tough collective rules for water-usage, some villages have devised mechanisms for equitable water distribution while others are in the process of framing their own village-specific rules.

In the process of developing detailed geo-hydrological profiles of the watershed areas, we are improving our understanding of aquifer boundaries, groundwater storage potential, and the impact of recharge on groundwater. Critical for locating and designing water recharge structures, we share this information with both the community and the government so as to facilitate interventions suitable to the terrain and geology of an area prone to drinking water scarcity every few years.

Although the planting of Jatropha on common lands was tried by local communities on a pilot scale, several villages soon learnt the possible negative impact it can have on grass and fodder production, and thereby on animal husbandry and are now dissuading others from taking up bio-fuel plantations.

 

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