Stories tagged: irrigation

What is the Irrigation Potential for Africa? : A new report by IFPRI

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.

Optimizing Water Use in Palestine

Currently in Palestine, water demand greatly exceeds water supply and the high price of water severely limits the 20% of the Palestinian labour force who are employed in agriculture. Subsequently, farmers’ livelihoods are threatened, as is food availability for the Palestinian people.

In 2007, the Palestinian Farmers’ Union (PFU) set up a Water and Environment Program to promote the equitable access of water and to strengthen farmers’ associations to better manage water distribution and agricultural water demand.   As part of the scheme, farmers are encouraged to adopt innovative approaches to optimize their use of water and fight water shortages.

Through the project, about 80 farmers in Jericho City – Jordan Valley – benefited from new on-farm irrigation equipments to irrigate more than 50 ha of agricultural land. The project also provided farmers with the appropriate training for such systems. An experimental pilot project to control fertilizer application was also produced.

Additionally, the PFU lobbied the authorities to place farmers and water users at the centre of the decision process, to win farmers the right to manage irrigation water resource by themselves.  As the final beneficiaries, they are consequently the most aware of their own needs and can create the most effective solutions.

The two-year water optimization project led to significant results, including a 30% increase on water savings, 25% increase on inputs savings and 15% in yield increases.

  • The reduction of inputs means an increase of 15 to 25% of farmers’ income.
  • Farmers, who are at the bottom of the food security chain, are back in the decision process.
  • Farmers can better manage water resources, collaborate and negotiate with other stakeholders.

To better manage an irrigation network, the PFU assists farmers in their efforts to organize themselves and create water user associations (WUAs) in which farmers are responsible for fully overseeing the operation of the agricultural water delivery facility. Building the capacities of both WUAs and farmers is the backbone of success for this transfer of knowledge.

This initiative was provided by the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP).

The Economist Discusses Water Scarcity, Water Management

economist_master_brand_logoOne of the lead stories in this week’s Economist discusses how water is used and managed around the world.

Many development experts are flagging the potential for a global water crisis if better management of our the earth’s water resources is not given more attention.  This includes wider application of existing knowledge as well as further innovation in policy-centred management systems and more funding for crop-related research.

Since the mid-20th century, the global population has roughly doubled while water use has trebled.  When this trend is paired with a shift in dietary choices toward more water-intensive foods (such as meat), the strain on water resources will increase.

The FAO also predicts that under current conditions, the world’s farmers will need 60% more water to feed the almost 9 billion people expected to be living on the earth. Yet, aid for needed projects such as better irrigation systems has been cut in half over the past generation, according to the OECD.

Increasing Water Efficiency in Pesticides

Improving the formulation of pesticides and moving towards more precise irrigation and applications systems can help increase water efficiency.

For example, the use of air induction nozzles, which mix air with the spray liquid, can reduce water volumes used from 1,500-2,000 liters with conventional sprayers to 200-800 litres.

If the water-based sprays are combined with high precision application nozzles, water use can be brought to 10-50 liters per hectare.