Wadi is designed for improving the living standards of families living in remote regions with under-utilised lands, in a long-term and environmentally sustainable way. For successful implementation of a Wadi programme some pre-requisites have to be met:
- As evolved by BAIF and accepted by the Central and various state governments, and other support agencies, Wadi is ideally suited for under-developed regions with a large tribal population. Support agencies would usually require that families belonging to poor scheduled tribe (ST) groups should constitute the majority in a proposed project area.
- Wadi is a long-term programme that can be successfully implemented only by agencies with long-term presence and commitment in the project area.
- Wadi is a multi-component programme, requiring a diverse range of capacities, knowledge and skills for implementation. Implementation agencies need to have keen and empathetic understanding of tribal life, customs and culture and expertise in large-scale project management and community mobilisation, including building people’s organisations.
- Implementing agencies need to have trained manpower for planning and execution of soil, water conservation and water resource development works; horticulture; improved agriculture practices; community health; women’s empowerment and establishing marketing channels. In some specific areas like choice of fruit-tree species or measures to control large-scale pest attacks, implementing agencies may have to use the expertise of other agencies like research institutes and agriculture universities.
- As development of agro-horti-forestry systems is the core component of a Wadi programme, it can be implemented only in regions that can support growth of trees, and have some existing or potential water resources. Naturally excluded are hot and cold deserts; steep (>30 degree slope) hill slopes; lands with little or no top soil and other kinds of uncultivable wasteland; lands regularly prone to severe flooding, and lands used for residential or industrial purposes.
- Wadi is designed for implementation in regions with under-utilised lands. The programme as a whole is not meant for fertile, intensive agriculture zones with good irrigation facilities.
- Families participating in the core component of a Wadi project need to have documents to establish legal control over lands to be used for agro-horti-forestry development.
- In BAIF’s experience, agro-horti-forestry development in family-owned plots is viable and economically sustainable on a large scale, when area of individual plots is around one acre (around 0.405 hectares or 4050 square metres).
- Development and maintenance of agro-horti-forestry systems in family-owned plots requires considerable effort and commitment from families. In the establishment stage, some activities can be done through group effort, and post-establishment, marketing can be done through cooperatives. But maintenance and care of fruit and other trees is a year-round activity and given the small size of Wadi plots, it cannot be outsourced. In general, the labour and involvement of at least two working adults is required for each plot. Families that have assured and good income from other sources may not provide the required time, energy and commitment.
- Participating families need to display ownership of the project. Apart from their wholehearted support, their efforts are also required for successful implementation and for ensuring long-term sustainability.
- Wadi requires active involvement of women. In many cultures, the bulk of on-farm activities are done by women. Participation of women is also critical in promotion of good health and nutrition practices, family savings, and discouragement of vices (see below).
- As alcoholism is one of the main causes of chronic poverty and despondency in tribal areas, active discouragement of consumption of alcohol and other vices becomes one of the key responsibilities of the implementing agency in a Wadi programme. Mobilisation of women plays an important role in this respect.
- For optimum use of resources available with the implementing agency, and to develop viable enterprises for marketing produce, a Wadi project area needs to have around 1000 directly participating families owning land in a radius of around 40 km. If the project area is larger, or there are more families, the project can be divided into clusters, with each cluster having around 1000 families within a range of approximately 40 km.
- Implementation of a Wadi programme requires clear selection of area and participants by the project implementing agency.
- Under the core agro-horti-forestry component of a Wadi project, different activities are done in different seasons. Seasonality of project implementation has to be well managed; it impacts manpower deployment, funds requirements, etc.
FAQ: What is the rationale for having Wadi plots of 1 acre?