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The Union Finance Ministry said on Friday announced that the World Bank will provide $115 million ( 869 crore) loan to fund a programme in India that will help national and state institutions adopt improved watershed management practices to increase farmers' resilience to climate change, promote higher productivity and better incomes.

Finance Ministry said, the Government of India, the State Governments of Karnataka and Odisha and the World Bank have signed the agreement for the programme called 'Rejuvenating Watersheds for Agricultural Resilience through Innovative Development Programme'.

As India has one of the largest watershed management programmes in the world, the new programme will further boost the watershed management system in the country.

As per the agreement, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) financing will support Karnataka with $60 million ( 453.5 crore), Odisha with $49 million ( 370 crore), and the remaining $6 million ( 45.5 crore) will be for the central government's Department of Land Resources, news agency ANI reported.

The $115 million ( 869 crore) loan has a maturity of 15 years, including a grace period of 4.5 years, the Finance Ministry said. The Government of India has announced a plan to restore 26 million hectares of degraded land by 2030 and double farmers' income by 2023. Effective watershed management can help enhance livelihoods in rainfed areas while building a more resilient food system.

The Finance Ministry said in a statement, "in this context, the new programme will help the participating state governments in their efforts to transform watershed planning and execution and adopt science-based planning that could be replicated across the country. It will also help the participating and other states to adopt new approaches to watershed development." 

The Covid-19 pandemic accentuated the need for sustainable and risk-averse agriculture in India which both protects farmers from climate uncertainties and strengthens their livelihood. While a robust institutional architecture for watershed development already exists in India, a renewed focus on science-based, data-driven approaches implemented through this project can offer new opportunities for farmers in the face of climate change.

(With inputs from agencies)

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