ETHIOPIA – Four locations across Ethiopia have been selected for employing highly efficient irrigation systems that could translate to big water savings for Ethiopia’s smallholder farmers and eventually for those of Ghana and Tanzania.
“For the farmers of these regions, achieving viability from these technologies would mean resource and cost savings that translate to stronger livelihoods through agriculture,” said Neville Clarke, the project’s leader from Texas A&M.
Robit, Danglia, Adami and Lemo – regions listed respectively from northernmost to southernmost Ethiopia – are first in line to receive water-conserving irrigation technologies that will later be implemented in the two other operating countries of the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Small Scale Irrigation.
“These are irrigation technologies that we hope will concurrently benefit the farmers and the environments of these parched regions” Clarke said. “We’re looking at these Ethiopian sites as a case study before spreading the systems around our other two countries.”
Field technology trials will include studies on irrigation pumps, irrigated forages, water application methods and recharge enhancement.
New tech will be scrutinized using the Integrated Decision Support System (IDSS) – a method for assessing the consequences of adopting new technologies and policies. The IDSS identifies constraints that limit technology adoption and proposes solutions. In this case, it will estimate new technology’s effects on many aspects including crop production, the environment and the economy – all the determining factors of improving income and enhancing nutrition for smallholder farmers. These components can be measured using the IDSS at village, watershed and regional levels.
IDSS system training has been ongoing for agriculture practitioners of Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania, preparing them to assess new irrigation technologies.
“We’re very excited to begin looking at how our irrigation interventions work in the field in Ethiopia and how effective they might be in Ghana and Tanzania down the road,” Clarke said.