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Innovation for sustainability in Africa
The fate of water in micro irrigation? the 14/04/16

Between 1990 and 2010, 2.3 million people had access to better source of potable water according to the 2016 edition of the United Nations World Water Development Report. A positive yet inadequate development, since more than 700 million people still have no access to clean and potable water which is necessary for a healthy life. In these conditions, the issue of access to water for development purposes, particularly for agriculture takes centre stage. For many, one of the solutions for the future, particularly for countries in the arid zones of Africa is micro irrigation also known as «drip irrigation».



Under this system, water used for watering farms slowly drips towards the roots of the plants, by flowing on the surface of the ground or by directly irrigating the land using a pipe system. In this case this refers to drip irrigation.
This technique is considered the most notable innovation in agriculture since the 1930s, replacing irrigation which requires a lot of water. Drip irrigation can also use devices known as « micro spray heads» which spray the water over small areas in minute sprinkles. The use of micro irrigation grew in Europe in the 60s, particularly for the cultivation of fruit, vineyards and horticulture. It then quickly developed in the dry regions, in California and the Middle East. Since the late 90s, micro irrigation has developed in African countries for the irrigation of small family farms, although it is far from being widespread. It represents less than 2% of global cultivated land due to the high cost of equipment required for its use.
This method however, is a source of inspiration to farmers and researchers. In West Africa, particularly Togo, where close to 80% of the people are dependent on farming for their livelihood, many businesses have started to invest in micro irrigation. The public authorities have therefore put in place the National Programme for Agricultural Investment and Food Security (PNIASA), to revive agricultural support and promote drip irrigation, adapted to a country with low rainfall.
The development of this method is a source of inspiration to many industrialists, Israelis and Moroccans. The CMGP company based in Casablanca and specialised in irrigation undertakes turnkey projects for all irrigation systems which it exports to sub-Saharan Africa. The company has developed various tools for example: the « Neptune » dripline which is incorporated with a flat dripper used specifically for perennial and seasonal farming. It has a high resistance to clogging. Another example is UNIRAM, a line of auto regulated drippers.


There is a lot more to do to ensure that these projects grow in Africa and are less expensive in terms of cost. They however obviously represent solutions for the future, aligning development perspectives to ecology.


Image courtesy of wikimedia commons

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