Deploying digitalization in support of farmer-led irrigation – examples from the field
2030 WRG at Africa Green Revolution Forum 2019
2030 Water Resources Group participated in a special session focused on digitalization for farmer-led mechanization and irrigation for smallholder systems at this year’s Africa Green Revolution Forum in Accra, Ghana, where the theme was ‘Grow Digital: leveraging digital transformation to drive sustainable food systems in Africa’.
Speaking on a panel about the digitization of farmer-led-irrigation, 2030 WRG Africa Regional Senior Water Resource Management Specialist, Joy Busolo, shared examples of how digitization can help ensure adequate availability and sustainable use of water resources for smallholder farmers, drawing on examples from 2030 WRG programs across Africa and Asia.
A brief overview of the projects presented during the event are included below.
Kenya – Farmer Led Irrigation Initiative
Partners: World Bank, International Finance Corporation, 2030 WRG
In Kenya, the FLI initiative collects and applies big-data to support farmer organizations in designing business models that address key agricultural water constraints in the country, including innovative finance, investment in water storage infrastructure, climate smart irrigation, input supply systems, value addition, post-harvest practices and formalizing market linkages. These business models will utilize innovative solar irrigation technologies, digitized market and supply chain linkages, and transportation systems to help increase water productivity across key smallholder farmer value chains.
Tanzania – Tanzania Irrigation Financing Mechanism
Partners: TADB, TAHA, Rikolto, KWSP, GRRC, 2030 WRG
In Tanzania, 2030 WRG is working with partners to develop an irrigation financing mechanism that includes scaling of digitized irrigation solutions for smallholder farmers across Tanzania. These digitized financial inclusion solutions are key to building smallholder farmer resilience to climate change through unlocking water-efficient irrigation.
India – Ramthal Full Automation and Scale-Up of Drip to Market Agro Corridor
Partners: Government of Karnataka, 2030 WRG
In Karnataka State, the Ramthal Drip Irrigation Project is the world’s largest fully automated irrigation system. The USD 130 million project has automated lift and drip irrigation systems across 24,000 hectares of agriculture land in Karnataka State. Due to the initial success of the project, the Ramthal Drip to Market Agro Corridor scale-up is underway. The scale-up will connect drip-irrigated areas to agribusiness markets, through the creation of a corridor resulting in 650,000 irrigated hectors. This will be made possible through the adoption of micro-irrigation technologies (drip, sprinkler, and rain guns), investment in infrastructure including cold chains logistics, packing house and processing plants; and market linkages for high-value agriculture and horticulture crops.
India – Blockchain Technologies
Partners: Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority, Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 2030 WRG
In India, 2030 WRG hosted a hack-a-thon which challenged participants to apply technology to the issue of wastewater reuse. The winning solution was the application of blockchain technologies promoting the automation and validation of wastewater reuse certificates. A similar use of blockchain technology for urban and rural agriculture abstraction, receipting and traceability is proving effective across India for smallholders.
Joy also shared examples of how IFC and the World Bank are using GIS systems, remote sensing and radar technologies to collect and analyze data for projects in Africa while mainstreaming FLI in irrigation policies, strategies, and investment projects.
It is clear that digitization of FLI has had great success stories across Asia and increasingly in Africa, but it is not a silver bullet. Alongside digitization, ongoing investments in policy reform, MSP partnerships, and farmers themselves is required for the successful scale-up of FLI.