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Harvesting of rainwater and brooklets water to increase mountain agricultural productivity: A case study from a dry valley of southwestern China

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In semi-arid valleys of southwestern China, seasonal shortage of water is the major contributing factor to low and unstable crop yield. Harvesting of both rainwater and brooklets water in the semi-arid valleys of Ningnan county of Sichuan Province has brought about considerable economic and environmental change. Brooklet water is collected throughout the year but mainly during the rainy season in a series of ponds while rainwater is harvested in underground tanks constructed on road side or land boundaries with only a small opening above ground to save limited cropland. Increased water availability has promoted cultivation of sugarcane, tobacco, and mulberry, and increased per unit area yield of food crops. Sericulture, sugarcane and tobacco have become three important sources of farmers’ income. The water harvesting has contributed considerably to increased rural income, poverty reduction, reduced soil erosion and improvement in overall environment. Government has played a key role in planning and implementation of water harvesting programmes. Financial support of government and clear ownership of water harvesting facilities are critical for the success of the programme. Application of similar water harvesting techniques in other areas with similar biophysical conditions would contribute to enhancing the rural economy and alleviating poverty.
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Keywords: Brooklets water; Environmental impacts; Poverty reduction; Rainfed mountain agriculture; Rainwater; Water harvesting

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Environment, College of Architecture and Environment, Sichuan University, Moziqiao, Chengdu, Sichuan 610065, China

Publication date: 2009-02-01

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