Sanyati smallholder farmers tackle climate challenges with the help of drip irrigation technology
Harare (New Ziana) – Smallholder farmers in Sanyati district, Mashonaland West province have adopted drip irrigation technology for horticultural production as part of efforts to build climate resilience into their farming activities through innovations.
A local development organization, Leadership for the Economic Advancement of the Disadvantaged (LEAD) Trust, introduced the technology in the district in 2019, as one of the most efficient systems to irrigate. Drip irrigation technology is 40 percent more efficient than gravity irrigation, and 25 percent more efficient than overhead irrigation.
In the face of climate variability and change, more farmers in Sanyati are promoting and using the drip irrigation, which is also a water and labour-saving technology. At least 20 lead farmers in wards 10, 11 and 12 are using drip irrigation kits to increase horticultural production.
The lead farmers who received the drip irrigation kits from LEAD Trust also assisted in disseminating information through training other farmers. Selected by the project based on previous exceptional performance and proven leadership skills, the lead farmers teach others using their own land as demonstration plots. Since 2019, the farmers in the three wards have continued to train other farmers on the technology and to date 3 000 have been trained.
Having observed the good performance of the system, 20 farmers procured drip kits which cover areas ranging from 0.25 hectare-0.4 hectare. One of these, 41-year-old Never Nganwa from Ward 11 who is now a community drip kit consultant who gives other farmers training and technical assistance.
Nganwa has seen the impact of climate change. His farm is located by a nearby river, which once flowed continuously but now flows only in summer. He used to grow irrigated tomatoes, but as rainfall and river levels became less certain his yields became increasingly unpredictable. Now, Nganwa has developed a ”smart farm” on 0.4 hectare of land where he is using drip irrigation after installing a solar powered pump to improve the system.
The drip irrigation system is improving resilience of the farmers as they are having all-year round productivity of horticulture crops and earn agricultural incomes to improve their livelihoods. For example, Nganwa said he is realizing AUS$12 000.00 per year from sales of cabbages, tomatoes, carrots, egg plant, watermelons, cucumbers and onions.
Nganwa sells his farm produce to local institutions including the Sanyati Baptist High School, Sanyati Baptist Hospital, Sanyati Primary School, local 5 000 farmer families, Harare, Kadoma and Marondera. His previous annual income was $200.00. Farmers cite the farming-as a family-business skills they received, such as budgeting, record keeping, marketing, and production planning as a key success factor to their agricultural development.
Agricultural technologies such as drip irrigation, help farmers manage the stress of changing weather conditions.
“There’s need for farmers to get assistance from government and private sector for them to access technologies that will enable them increase farm yields, achieve resilience, and better nutrition to address poverty, food security as well as economic growth,” said Nganwa adding, ”We need to invest in new agricultural innovation now to produce even more significant impacts and benefits in the future.”