The African Market Garden: The Development of a Low‐Pressure Drip Irrigation System for Smallholders in the Sudano Sahel
Abstract, Irrigation and Drainage, 2011
The African Market Garden (AMG) is a holistic horticultural production system for small producers based on low‐pressure drip irrigation combined with a crop management package. Over the last 10 years ICRISAT (the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi‐Arid Tropics) and partners have tested four AMG models in the Sudano Sahel of West Africa. The Thrifty (80 m2) and Commercial (500 m2 drip kit) AMG systems were developed for individual gardening. The Cluster (multiple kits of 500 m2) and Communal systems were developed for producers to benefit from collective use of water energy resources land purchasing and marketing. This paper describes the development pathway of the four different models and assesses their returns to investment. It was shown that irrigated vegetable production is a capital‐intensive undertaking where investment and operation cost per unit land can be reduced through economies of scale. The payback period for a 500 m2 traditional garden and for a single 500 m2 AMG is 15 months while for a 5000 m2 Cluster or Communal AMG it is only 5–6 months. The latter two systems have been tested using alternative energy sources like solar radiation gravitation or artesian pressure to further cut down costs of water supply.