The Union Government has constituted a National Rainfed Area Authority on 3 November, 2006 to give focused attention to the problems of rainfed areas of the country. The Authority is an advisory, policymaking and monitoring body charged with examining guidelines in various existing schemes and in the formulation of new schemes including all externally aided projects in this area. Its mandate is wider than mere water conservation and covers all aspects of sustainable and holistic development of rainfed areas, including appropriate farming and livelihood systems approaches. It would also focus on issues pertaining to landless and marginal farmers, since they constitute the large majority of inhabitants of rainfed areas. The NRAA has formulated common guidelines for the Watershed Development Project and is in consultation with all the States for its implementation as per instructions contained in the guidelines. The Authority has published the Common Guidelines for Watershed Development Projects with a fresh framework for next generation watershed programmes.
The NRAA has a two tier structure. The first tier is the Governing Board that provides necessary leadership and appropriate coordination in implementation of programmes. The Governing Board is chaired by Union Agriculture Minister and co-chaired by Union Minister of Rural Development. The second tier is the Executive Committee consisting of technical experts and representatives from stakeholder Ministries. The Executive Committee is headed by a full time Chief Executive Officer who should be a recognized expert on the subject. The CEO is supported by five full-time technical experts. The Authority is serviced by the Ministry of Agriculture and is located at Delhi.
The Authority’s mandate is wider than mere water conservation and covers all aspects of sustainable and holistic development of rainfed areas, including appropriate farming and livelihood system approaches. Issues pertaining to landless and marginal farmers, who constitute the large majority of inhabitants of rainfed areas, are to be addressed by the Authority.
The mandate of the Authority includes:
- To prepare a perspective plan, outlining the national strategy and road map for holistic and sustainable development of rainfed farming areas.
- To evolve common guidelines for all schemes of different Ministries, including EAPs for development of Rainfed/Dry land Farming systems.
- To coordinate and bring convergence within and among agricultural and wasteland development programmes being implemented in rainfed areas of the country.
- To identify rainfed areas in different States which need priority attention and prepared watershed development programmes for integrated natural resource management in consultation with States, focusing on multi dimensional crop, livestock, horticulture, agri-pasture integrated systems and programmes for landless farming communities.
- To identify gaps in input supply, credit availability, dissemination of appropriate technology and other requirements relevant for rainfed areas.
- Guide the implementing agencies on priority setting and monitor the specific interventions required.
- To develop plans/programmes for capacity building of Centre/State Government functionaries in rainfed areas.
- To suggest modalities to strengthen National and State Level Institutions concerned with Rainfed/Dryland areas, and establish institutional linkages with prioritized watersheds.
- Monitor disbursement of rural credit/insurance cover/safety net programmes developed for rainfed areas.
- Set the research agenda including a critical appraisal of on-going programmes and promote diffusion of required knowledge for integrated farming in rainfed areas to district and lower level authorities.
- To evaluate the effectiveness of completed watersheds and concurrent evaluation of on-going programmes.
The NRAA has formulated common guidelines for the Watershed Development Project and is in consultation with all the States for its implementation as per instructions contained in the guidelines.