May Is Irrigation and Mechanization Month on Agrilinks
Register for our 2 webinars:
May 19: Accelerating the Impact of Irrigation and Landscape-Level Agricultural Water Management at Scale
May 24: Irrigation Investment Policy: Does Scale Matter?
Supporting Irrigation and Mechanization Impact at Scale
Irrigation and mechanization in Africa have the potential to sustainably boost agricultural productivity by at least 50%; however, African farming systems are almost entirely rainfed and utilize low levels of mechanization. Though there are numerous proven forms of small-scale irrigation (SSI), landscape level agricultural water management (AWM) and mechanization that are key technologies for smallholders on their pathway out of poverty and food insecurity, these technologies, though different in form, face similar challenges on scaling and enabling their intended impacts. For example, these technologies require significant capital investments by smallholders and require robust market systems to support their use and maintenance. Thus, the focus of this theme month is less on advancements in developing new pumps and machinery, but rather on exploring the enabling systems that make such technologies more accessible and impactful for smallholders — minimizing system tradeoffs and maximizing synergies.
Past research has demonstrated high potential for adoption of SSI, AWM and mechanization by smallholders globally, with key evidence including: 1) that it is profitable for farmers, 2) there are multiple pathways that these technologies improve nutrition and resilience, 3) they can be environmentally sustainable using appropriate technologies and practices, 4) gender equity and inclusivity can be enabled with intentional design and 5) there are business models enabling scaling. However, even with these positive system benefits, for most smallholders, such technologies remain inaccessible. The barriers vary by system, but in general, there is a need for better targeting of proven and appropriate SSI, AWM and mechanization technologies, and identification of “keystone” barriers and tradeoffs inhibiting smallholder farmer access and adoption.
Research on the suitability of SSI, AWM and mechanization technologies across biophysical and socioeconomic conditions, including productivity, economic, environment, human and social indicators, will also be explored. This will be paired with exploring technologies and approaches that support the localization and targeting of SSI, AWM and mechanization at the farm, household and landscape levels to overcome field- and landscape-level heterogeneity. Such approaches enable the design of technology bundles and parallel and supporting innovations, such as finance, policy and capacity, among others, that drive impact at scale.
Theme Month Objective
The primary objective of this theme month is to explore systems research on the scaling and impact pathways of SSI, AWM and mechanization to enhance the utility of these tools for inclusive, agriculture-led growth, nutrition and resilience. This will combine a series of curated topics as well as an open invitation for posts and discussion from this community on research priorities in this space.
During this theme month, we have invited a series of blog posts covering irrigation, AWM and mechanization topics across production, economics, environment and the social and human condition. To conclude the month, we will host two webinars. The first webinar will explore gaps and opportunities for research in this space and the second will do a deep dive into irrigation policy.
In addition to the invited presenters, we would like to hear your thoughts about research priorities for accelerating proven irrigation, AWM and mechanization technologies for impact at scale. We invite you to contribute blog posts on the topic or join us for our webinars, which will include significant opportunity to receive input. Note that you must register and be logged in to Agrilinks to post blogs or comments.