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Title Evaluation of Farm Ponds of Kharagpur Blocks of West Bengal, India
Author Name Chandani Bhandari
Abstract

Marginal and small farmers of the state of West Bengal suffer from frequent droughts due to erratic rainfall patterns, high evaporation rates, and recurrent water scarcity. The majority of farmers in West Bengal have farm ponds that are grossly underutilized due to several social and technical constraints. In this study, the roles of various socio-economic factors on management of existing farm ponds were examined using a binary logit model to understand their contributions to sustainability of the livelihoods of marginal and small farmers of the region. A field survey of 155 farm ponds, owned by farmers with different socio-economic backgrounds, was undertaken in Kharagpur Blocks (I, II) of West Medinipur district in West Bengal. The study also included water budget, water quality, and economic analyses of three farm ponds having different management practices, viz. managed bentonite lined pond, managed unlined pond, and unmanaged unlined pond. Water budget analysis revealed that about 610 mm of extra water depth could be saved in bentonite-lined ponds compared to unlined ponds. Also, the water quality (as per the threshold values recommended for aquaculture life) was not deteriorated due to bentonite lining. The study suggested that the best way of utilizing pond water includes simultaneous water use for irrigation and fish cultivation, which is possible with lined ponds. Therefore, lined farm ponds with locally available cheap lining material might be a suitable intervention in the context of the socioeconomic development of small and marginal farmers of the Kharagpur region. The pond management was significantly influenced by household economic factors and pond related factors.

Keyword Farm pond , pisciculture , Bentonite lining , water balance , water quality , socio-economics ,
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