The dubious success of micro drip irrigation kits
Abstract, Global Water Forum, 2016
With the objective of modernising smallholder agriculture, several organisations have designed different micro drip irrigation kits for the irrigation of smallholder farms in the developing world. As a promising technology for more efficient water and labour management and improved nutrition and food security outcomes, micro drip irrigation has appealed to many governments and development agencies. One notable example is their adoption and distribution as part of the African Market Garden (AMG) project initiated by the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).
The AMG was designed as an integrated system to improve the profitability of small farmers’ horticultural production in the Sudano-Sahelian region of Africa by means of drip irrigation.1 Following the introduction of drip kits in 2004 by the AMG project, eight successive projects were initiated for the promotion of drip kits between 2004 and 2015 in Burkina Faso. All of these projects were documented as successes with their promoters and designers hailing drip irrigation as a promising technology.2 However, the question remains, to what extent is this apparent success supported by the ongoing independent use of drip irrigation by farmers? This is a valid question as, despite the enthusiasm for drip kits among development agencies and the successes claimed by its promoters and designers, there is no evidence of sustained use of drip kits in the field.2