Stefano Gaspirini, Country Director of iDE Mozambique Continue reading
Jessica Joye, the Communications Director at Fintrac, discusses the role of group irrigation schemes in transforming the future of small-scale agriculture in Honduras. Continue reading
“How will we grow an adequate quantity—and quality—of food to feed and nourish a rapidly growing, urbanizing world in the face of increasing water insecurity?” This was the primary problem considered by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs at the 2019 Global Food Security Symposium in Washington DC last week. This year’s symposium, ‘From Scarcity to Security: Managing Water for a Nutritious Food Future’ saw the release of a 149-page report by the Council and focus on three central topics: the nature of the threat to water security; strategies to enhance water, food, and nutrition security; and ensuring that water solutions reach smallholder farmers. Continue reading
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.
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.
“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
A new report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) titled “What is the irrigation potential for Africa? A combined biophysical and socioeconomic approach” has been published.
The report argues that although irrigation in Africa has the potential to boost agricultural productivities by at least 50 per cent, food production is almost entirely sustained through rainwater, with only six per cent of the total cultivated area equipped for irrigation.
Over 70 per cent of Africa’s poor live in rural areas, and most of these people depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Therefore, the report says, agriculture has a key role to play in tackling poverty on the continent.
To help increase agricultural production and decrease poverty, many development agencies have recently proposed to substantially increase investments in irrigation in Africa. But, as the report claims, the potential for irrigation investments in the region is highly dependent on geographic, hydrologic, agronomic and economic factors that must be taken into account when the viability of projects is assessed.
The report analyses irrigation investment potential in Africa, and concludes that there is “significant profitable irrigation potential for both small-scale and large-scale systems”.
Farming First think that water use efficiency is important as water is a precious resource. By 2050, the proportion of the population facing stressed water supplies is expected to increase by 500% and the number facing full water scarcity is expected to increase by 800%.
We believe that research, innovation, and access to improved technologies, seeds, and improved irrigation techniques are essential to increasing the efficiency of water use, and that agriculture needs to be part of watershed management.
Click here to go to our water page, where you can download our position paper and read about our six-point action plan.