Conservation and enhancement of land and water resources is important. Water harvesting, watershed development and economic and efficient water use can help to enhance productivity and income considerably. Conjunctive use of different water sources should become the rule, rather than the exception. Unless there is equity in water sharing, there will be no cooperation in water saving. Therefore, equitable methods of water sharing should be promoted. Where water is scare, high value but low water requiring crops should be grown. In this context, the organization of Pulses and Oilseed Villages should become a national movement. This should be a major aim of the Pulses and Oilseeds Technology Missions. Solving internal shortages of pulses and oilseeds through imports will only add to the economic woes of dry land farming communities. Pulses and oilseeds are important income earning and soil enriching crops in dry land areas. Various estimates of land degradation exist. The Ministry of Rural Development has also published a Wasteland Atlas of India. The following kinds of soil degradation have been quantified:
Wind erosion 19.7 million ha.
Salinization 4.1 million ha.
Water logging 3.1 million ha.
Water erosion 69.6 million ha.
Soil fertility decline 13.7 million ha.
Thus, there are vast opportunities for launching Wasteland Development Enterprises by local self-help groups through the following strategy.
Identify the precise nature of soil degradation and develop scientific restoration measures. Based on agro-ecological conditions, choose tree species which can help to initiate suitable enterprises. For example, a plant pesticide model of wasteland development could involve the planting of neem and melia. Appropriate species can be chosen and planted, depending on soil and water conditions, for undertaking the preparation of furniture, doors, windows etc. or paper, fiber or fruit packaging industries.
The aim is to add value to wasteland development through an integrated strategy of restoration and commercialization. Such a twin approach will impart greater momentum to wasteland reclamation particularly in peri-urban areas.
b. Extending the gains to rain-fed and semi-arid, hill and island areas, which have so far been bypassed by yield enhancement technologies: regional imbalances in agricultural development are growing, based largely on the availability of assured irrigation on the one hand and assured and remunerative marketing opportunities on the other. North Bihar is an exception, where water is in plentiful but agricultural growth is slow. Eastern India has a large untapped yield reservoir and by and large, falls under the "green but no green revolution" category. West Bengal has made impressive progress during the nineties, while more recently Assam has started making progress, thanks to a large shallow-tube well program designed to tap ground water during rabi and summer (boro) seasons. The introduction of eco-regional technology missions, aimed to provide appropriate packages of technology, techno-infrastructure, services and input and output pricing and marketing policies will help to include the excluded in agricultural progress.