This paper attempts to assess the impact of large-scale investments in soil and water conservation on dryland crop yields in three semi-arid watersheds in India. Investments in soil and water conservation are supposed to contribute to dryland crop yield improvement by rehabilitating the productive capacity of the land.
On the basis of farmers’ interviews, group meetings and field visits, we explore the main constraints for dryland crop yield improvement. We find that investments in soil and water conservation do not have a significant impact on dryland yields, at least not under prolonged conditions of drought.
Besides, access to irrigation as a result of investments in water storage and conservation tends to lead towards more water-intensive crops instead of to supplemental irrigation to improve dryland yields. Also, we find that low production potential might not be the biggest constraint: Low economic returns, changing household diets, failing markets and poverty seem to constrain dryland crop yields even more.
Authors: Jetske A. Bouma | Christopher A. Scott