Stories tagged: iDE

10 Ways Agriculture is Improving Lives in Asia

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In this latest instalment of our “Supporter Spotlight” series, we take a trip to Asia to learn about the innovative projects Farming First supporters are working on all over the continent to improve food security and farmers’ lives.

1. Fintrac: Beating Drought with Smart Water Management in Cambodia

When the rains did not come in 2015, one group of farmers in the northeastern province of Pursat not only survived, but thrived. They had banded together to form a Water User Group, that managed farmer access to the Polyum Canal. By maximising efficiency and eliminating conflict around water use, and using good agricultural practices taught by the Cambodia HARVEST program, group members have increased their productivity from an average of 2,500 kilograms per hectare to more than 4,000. As a result, their household incomes have increased by 536 percent! Read more >>

2. GAIN: Meet the Wheatamix Women in India

Through funding from the Bestseller Foundation, GAIN is working in the states of Karnataka and Bihar in India to improve the nutrition and lives of groups of semi-literate women. These women are trained to run their own factories producing a quality blended complementary food product called ”Wheatamix” in Bihar and “Shakhti Vita” in Karnataka. This complementary food product, fortified with vitamins and minerals, has the potential to reach thousands of women, adolescents and children in the region. Read more >>

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3. CropLife: An Indian Farmer Perspective on Biotechnology

In this interview with CropLife International, Balwinder Singh shares his experience of planting an insect-resistant strain of cotton. “I was lucky to be part of the trial when Bt cotton came to India, and when I saw the benefits of this technology; I was the first person to say, this is what is going to save us,” he said. “I took a gamble, and took an additional 50 hectares of land on lease to sow Bt cotton.  It has paid off and my family is enjoying a decent living.” Read more >>

4. IPNI: Healthier Soils Make Indian Farmers More Maize

Access to water has created a challenge for many Indian farmers, increasing interest in alternative crops to flooded rice. Working in West Bengal, research staff at the International Plant Nutrition Institute have focused on developing a rice-maize rotation as an alternative to rice to address the water challenge. Research showed that adding potassium, phosphorus, sulphur and zinc in order to grow maize effectively added US$80 – $290/ha to the farmer’s income. Not only was the maize yield increased, but similar responses were recorded in the rice in these on-farm trials. Read more >>

5. CNFA: Building a Network for Agro-Input Services in Bangladesh 

CNFA implements the USAID-funded Agro-Inputs Project (AIP) to improve the knowledge of and access to quality agricultural inputs for farmers in Bangladesh. CNFA provides trainings and technical assistance on business management and ethics, basic agronomics, safe use and handling of pesticides and other related topics to 3,000 agro-input retailers. Of this, 300 women-retailers are specifically targeted. These agro-input retailers are expected to serve 1 million smallholder farmers, impacting more than 5 million individuals across 20 southern districts of Bangladesh, generating more than $100 million in sales. Read more >>

6. Livelihoods: Mangroves Restore Agricultural Land in Indonesia 

In 1987, Northern Sumatra had 200,000 hectares of mangroves. Today, less than half of that amount remains, with only 83,000 hectares standing. This Livelihoods project has restored mangrove forests, and as a result, increases the safety of the local population. Replanting coastal mangroves significantly buffers coastal communities from future tsunamis akin to that of the 2004 tsunami. Mangrove forests also help to restore vital agricultural land. Additionally, this project generates new sources of economic income. Local villagers are able to increase their revenues by selling the by-products of the mangroves such as fish, mollusks, batik dye and honey. Read more >>

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7. HarvestPlus: Iron Pearl Millet Enriches Diets in India

Iron deficiency is rampant in India, affecting 7 out of 10 children. It impairs mental development and learning capacity, increases weakness and fatigue, and may increase the risk of women dying during childbirth. HarvestPlus is working with partners to promote varieties of pearl millet rich in iron, to help combat malnutrition. Read more >>

8. iDE: Saving Time and Earning Money Through Water Access in Nepal 

Rural villages in Nepal lack several basic services, but the primary issue for many is access to water. Multiple-Use Water Systems (MUS) are an improved approach to water resource management, which taps and stores water and distributes it to households in small communities to meet both domestic and household agricultural needs. In addition to dramatically decreasing the workload of women and girls, MUSs provide benefits in health and sanitation, as well as enabling communities to improve their decisions on the allocation of water resources. “After we got the water it was easy to grow vegetables,” says Kamala Pariyar, a rural farmer in Dikurpokhari. “I used to ask my husband for money to buy basic things. Now, by selling the vegetables, I can earn 600 rupees a day. I have enough money.” Read more >>

9. World Vision: Mangrove Planting Revitalizes Philippine Fishing Community

When a fishing village in the western part of Leyte in the Philippines was struggling to catch enough to feed their families, World Vision helped to implement a mangrove planting initiative. Each family was provided with an average of 1,000 mangrove stalks to plant in the area near their house, to provide a safe habitat of various species of fish, where they can lay their eggs without being disturbed by double net fishing. There is now abundant fish for catching once more, and the community is protected from the risk of typhoons. Read more >>

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10. IFA: Combatting Iodine Deficiencies Through Fertigation

Globally it is estimated that 2.2 billion people in the world are at a risk of iodine deficiency, which causes a wide range of physiological abnormalities, mainly related to defective mental development and brain damage. The content of iodine in food depends on the iodine content of the soils in which crops are grown. In Xinjiang Province, in the North West of China, the soil is particularly poor in iodine with an associated high infant-mortality rate. A project was put in place to supply the water irrigation system with iodine using an iodine fertilizer dripping technique, called fertigation. With this technique, the iodine from the treated water is absorbed by the soil and progresses through plants, animals and humans that eat the iodine-rich plants. Thanks to this project, rates of infant mortality halved and local livestock production increased by 40% in the first year! Read more >>

Do you have an inspiring story about Asian agriculture? Tweet @FarmingFirst and tell us about it!

The Secret to Growing More Food with Less Water

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This week in the #SDG2countdown to the High Level Political Forum in New York, we’ll be exploring SDG2.3, which is all about doubling agricultural productivity and incomes for smallholder farmers. Is productivity just about yield, or actually producing more with greater efficiency? Emily Karol from iDE explains how farmers they work with are producing more using less water and boosting incomes at the same time. 

With the help of micro-irrigation technology, small-scale farmers are growing more food with less water—and making a profit doing it. In Vietnam, small-scale farmers who bought micro-irrigation technology use 30% less water and can double the productivity of their farm, leading to a median increase in annual income of $350.

Large agriculture companies often overlook small-scale farmers because they don’t see the market potential in selling to them. iDE, a social innovation organization, works to bridge the last mile between manufacturers and rural farmers. We use a market-based approach to build supply and demand for micro-irrigation technology at the local level—making the technology affordable and accessible to farmers who make less than $2 a day.

iDE has spread this approach across 11 countries, designing each model to the context of the country—employing a Farm Business Advisor model in some countries and in others a social enterprise strategy. However, the goal remains consistent: improve farmer livelihoods.

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This farm in Vietnam’s Ninh Thuan province has installed sprinkler and drip irrigation systems. The soil in this area of the country is sandy, which doesn’t retain water well. Micro-irrigation is a more efficient and effective method of irrigating crops in this region. (Photo courtesy of iDE/2015)

In Vietnam retailers carry many of the components to build an affordable micro-irrigation system. Instead of promoting a branded irrigation product, we developed a market around the idea of a micro-irrigation system, which allowed for flexibility and ongoing innovation in the way farmers use irrigation in different settings. To establish the market, we engaged local retailers to stock the components and educate their customers; we trained technicians to install the systems; and we coached farmers on how to use the technology with a variety of crops throughout the year. Our primary implementing partner was the local Farmers’ Unions.

Hua Van San, a farmer who lives in the Ninh Thuan province, learned about micro-irrigation through his Farmers’ Union.

Mr. Hua Van San and his wife, prepare asparagus for market. (Photo courtesy of iDE/2013)

Mr. Hua Van San and his wife, prepare asparagus for market. (Photo courtesy of iDE/2013)

“The soil is so sandy here, if you want to irrigate the whole garden you have to water it all day,” said Mr. San’s wife. “My son had to spend half his day helping me irrigate the garden on top of other farm tasks. He was too exhausted to do his homework and had to quit school.”

In 2010, Mr. San put his family’s most valued possession, a motorbike, up as collateral for a loan to purchase an electric water pump and sprinkler system. Moving away from the traditional furrow and ditch irrigation method to the tube and sprinkler system, Mr. San was able to use the space on his land more efficiently—allowing him to plant more crops closer together and increasing his yields. His family also spent 50% less time irrigating the crops.

“It reduced the burden of irrigation for my wife,” said Mr. San. “But, best of all, my son is free from watering and now he is back in school. He has more time for studying and fun.”

In 2012, Mr. San began cultivating asparagus, a high-value crop that he sells in the markets of Ho Chi Minh City.

“Last year was a very successful year for us,” said Mr. San. “We made $6,700 more profit than before—an amount we never dreamed of.”

With his additional income, he expanded his micro-irrigation system to cover an even greater portion of his 3,000 square meter farm. In just three years, his family earned enough income to no longer be identified as poor according to the government’s classification. Today, Mr. San is sharing his knowledge by teaching neighbouring farmers to grow asparagus.

Take the NEW quiz on SDG2.3 at www.farmingfirst.org/SDGs

 

Julian Wolfson: The iDEal Way to Expand Drip Irrigation

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In this guest post, the Chief Executive of iDE Europe details how technical assistance through a social enterprise is ensuring that drip irrigation is successful.

Without the right knowledge or necessary tools, poor farmers in Nicaragua have been unable to undertake a second growing season during the dry season. However, with micro-irrigation equipment and techniques, these farmers have the potential of doubling their annual production and incomes. Until 2010, their needs were ignored by the commercial sector, who failed to see these farmers as a large enough market for their products. This is the market gap that can be filled by a social enterprise, which exists not simply to make a profit, but to ensure that community and societal objectives can be met. In Nicaragua, that gap is being met by iDEal Tecnologías. Continue reading

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How to Bring Drip Irrigation to Smallholders when Conventional Approaches Fail

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23rd August 2015 11.00 – 12.30 pm CET

Stockholm, Sweden

This World Water Week, iDE will convene a side event on bringing drip irrigation to smallholder farmers, bringing together key stakeholders from the drip industry, NGOs, donor agencies, finance, and scientific institutions to discuss how they can bring –in a concerted effort – suitable and affordable drip irrigation technologies to smallholders. The conveners of the seminar will present on the current landscape of the drip irrigation industry, their perspective on the challenges and solutions mentioned above, and discuss the potential for collaboration across sectors and organizations.  Continue reading

iDE – Delivering the Latest Irrigation Technology Straight to the Farm

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Background: Approximately 1.1 billion people in the world live on less than US$ 1 per day, 800 million of whom are small-holder farmers relying on subsistence agriculture for their livelihood.

Moving from reliance on rainfed and bucket irrigation to the use of simple water lifting, application, and storage technologies has a  very positive impact on farmers’ lives and contributes to a more efficient use of scarce water resources.

Building a Global Supply Chain

iDEal’s Global Supply serves as the distribution enterprise for micro-irrigation technologies, providing sample products, bulk shipments, and technical support worldwide.

To provide widespread access to a variety of affordable, simple, and appropriate micro-irrigation products, iDEal has established a reliable network of international and local supply chain sources.

Identifying and Developing the Right Irrigation Technology for Farmers

iDE’s in-house Innovations Team along with in-country field staff have built the expertise to identify the most appropriate low pressure micro irrigation products to support farmers working under some of the most challenging conditions to grow crops.

The current product line includes:

  • Micro-Tube Drip Kits
  • Mini Sprinklers
  • Pumps
  • Water Storage

To accompany these products, iDEal has developed an extensive collection of technical design sheets, user’s manuals and marketing collateral to support the product line. These tools give users the training and installation knowledge to properly utilize iDE’s technologies.

Find out more about the products available here

Ensuring Sustainable Solutions reach Smallholder Farmers

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Diagram: Example of iDE Country Program Distribution Network

In order to build financial sustainability for farmers, iDEal follows a market based approach and integrates a business model into its distribution, product development and support through to the end user. By focusing on people as consumers and producers and on solutions that can make markets more efficient, competitive, and inclusive – the initiative sets out to supply the expertise, which will build financial sustainability for clients and their communities.

Once product supply lines are established, iDEal looks at specific market conditions to identify the most efficient distribution path to get technologies into the hands of the famers, catering the supply method to every customer’s needs.

iDE has established programs in 11 countries throughout Asia, Africa and Central America. These programs are fully staffed with business professionals, irrigation engineers and field staff. By collaborating with various retailers and local agents country programs are able to establish extensive networks to distribute products to farmers throughout the agricultural regions of a country.

iDE also works with partners such as USAID, Winrock, Swiss Development Cooperation and private corporations and donors to ensure irrigation technologies can be distributes as far and wide as possible.

Results 

  • IDEal’s Global Supply Initiative is now working in over 20 developing countries
  • Farmers utilizing the irrigation technologies are able to grow more, higher-quality crops year-round whilst reducing water, labour and energy inputs
  • iDE have provided farmers in developing countries with access to the most appropriate technologies for sustainable development