APFAMGS: Teaching Farmers to Use Groundwater Sustainably

In an effort to always be learning something new that's going on in the world of water I spend a lot of time searching the internet and reading various studies and articles. This week I came upon a very interesting program that was done in the Andhra Pradesh region of India. The program, which is appropriately called the Andhra Pradesh Farmer Managed Groundwater Systems (APFAMGS), covered 638 villages in seven districts that are prone to drought (Anantapur, Chittoor, Cuddapah, Kurnool, Mahabubnagar, Nalgonda and Prakasam). The initial five year program concluded in 2009 with much success, and I believe this program can be used in other areas with the same level of success.

Groundwater in Andhra Pradesh is very important; it is used for half of all farming irrigation needs within the region. As you can expect, in rural areas where people have little knowledge of the hydrological cycle and how aquifers work the groundwater is pumped without much thought to the consequences over-pumping can have. Over the 30 years prior to the implementation of the plan the depths of bore wells rose from an average of 30 meters to 90 meters, and in some areas as deep as 200 meters. Further, during this same period the area being irrigated via groundwater doubled in size, and the number of bore wells in the region spiked.

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