Household Irrigation Despite the fact that Ethiopia is endowed with huge water resources, water is often a key constraint to smallholder farmer productivity. The livelihoods of the large majority of small-scale farming families are dependent on rain-fed agriculture. And their ability to diversify into irrigated agriculture is constrained by a lack of appropriate and affordable water control technology options.
Household Irrigation Technology (HIT) is believed to offer transformative potential for the Ethiopian agriculture sector. Estimates are that, over the next 5 years, HIT could enable more than 650,000 farming households to become agricultural entrepreneurs, increasing family income and food security for almost 5 million Ethiopians while adding $600 million USD and 30,000 jobs to the national economy.
How do we get things flowing?
Despite its great promise, current HIT distribution models in Ethiopia are unable to capture the full potential of the technology, as they either do not address all steps in the value chain, or they are very limited in scale. Improvement of pumps procurement and maintenance, irrigation training, access to complementary inputs (such as seed, fertilizer, and plant protection), as well as linkage to commercial output markets are required to realize Ethiopia’s full HIT ability.
The objective of the ATA’s Household Irrigation Program is to support the Agricultural Growth Program in achieving its small-scale irrigation targets through promotion of household level irrigation activities. This effort is aimed primarily at household level implementation support along the value chain of household irrigation including identification of water resources and appropriate technologies in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, BOAs, and other implementation partners.
Accordingly, the ATA’s Household Irrigation team recently worked with an array of related stakeholders to develop a vision and implementation roadmap which identified 7 major bottlenecks in the Household Irrigation sector:
- Lack of readily available information on groundwater resource potential (quantity, quality, and depth of water source) to recommend technically feasible water lifting and saving technologies
- Lack of data on high value crops for specific agroecology of the woredas
- Absence of well-trained manufacturers to produce quality manual and mechanized HITs for smallholders, and lack of clear standards for HITs
- Lack of reliable and interdependent HITs and other irrigation agriculture input supply chain
- Absence of credit access to smallholder farmers to purchase HITs and other agriculture inputs during irrigation season
- Smallholders are not getting the right training and advisory support on irrigated agriculture and the agriculture research system offers limited attention to high value crops
- Frequent HIT failures and absence of locally available maintenance services or spare parts
To begin addressing the above bottlenecks, the Household Irrigation program has started to make progress in the following areas.
Groundwater Mapping – An assessment and mapping of groundwater resources is underway throughout the AGP woredas, at both detailed and high levels. Based on early mapping results, implementation of household irrigation projects are being implemented in 6 woredas, in conjunction with key stakeholders.
High Value Crops Agriculture – High-value HIT crops are being identified, along with potential output market to sell the produce. Implementation will begin in 5 AGP woredas, with future rollouts planned.
Engine Pumps – Standards for irrigation engine pumps are being developed in collaboration with the Ethiopian Standards Agency. The best procurement procedures for pumps is also being evaluated in advance of delivering the first pumps to smallholder farmers.