CDSA initiated the Wasteland Development Demonstration Farm in 1984 on a 15-acre piece of land. The land was purchased by the trust with the surplus generated by the ISD with help from its UNCHS (HABITAT) Govt. of Sri Lanka Project.
The importance of converting wasteland into productive land for sustainability of Rural Livelihoods need not be stressed. The WDDF was established to assess through action research the technical feasibility of developing wasteland and the economic returns from such land for marginal and small farmers. Action research was conducted by carrying out the following actions.
- Upgradation of Land through various conservation and regeneration practices.
- Water conservation and harvesting by using innovative and traditional methods.
- Tree plantation for improving land/water conservation to provide fodder, fuel and income.
- Developing and understanding of the terms-of-trade for marketing of vegetables and fruits through the regulated market at Pune as well as street-corner retailing.
- Preserving and processing tomatoes, chilies and mangoes.
- Preparation and testing of training modules on wasteland regeneration through land, water and vegetation management.
The lessons from WDDF were used successfully to design and implement the Pilot Watershed Development Demonstration Project for high rainfall areas. Eight micro watersheds, from watershed B.M. 44 in Mulshi taluka consisting of eight villages participated in the project. The Multi level-planning department of the Planning Commission (GoI) funded the project under its Western Ghats Development Programme, from 1989 to 1994. (Government of Maharashtra GR no. PLN-1089 /Pr. 55 / Yojana – 19, dated 29th November 1989.). Over 100 farmers from these villages were trained at CDSA by using WDDF training modules.
The WDDF has been used as an effective way of demonstrating development of wasteland into productive land in various Mulshi Villages, NGO/Civil Society organizations, educational institutions and the District Soil Conservation Department.