ICT Update magazine, new issue: Irrigation

The latest issue of ICT Update magazine has just been published online at http://ictupdate.cta.int

ICT Update issue 56, August 2010: Irrigation

Figures from the FAO show that irrigation can increase crop yields by up to 400%. Developing a reliable system to water the land all year round gives farmers the chance to plant crops in the dry season, and grow high-value crops to increase profits and recoup investment costs. But with only a small percentage of available farmland being irrigated in ACP countries, ICTs are now becoming crucial to the promotion, development and maintenance of new irrigation systems.

‘The most important thing is to design systems – both irrigation and information systems – that are best suited to the environment and the people who will use them.’ Maimbo Mabanga Malesu, programme coordinator at the World Agroforestry Centre.

‘Irrigation can greatly improve yields and guarantee crops. Farmers don’t need to worry if there will be enough rainfall; they know their crops will get enough water. It provides a kind of reassurance.’ Stanley Rampair, chief executive officer of Jamaica’s National Irrigation Commission Limited.

Managers of the Office du Niger irrigation scheme in Mali are using remote sensing data to analyse the efficiency of the system without having to physically check the infrastructure. The information will help them prepare for future expansion.

Irrisat-SMS combines satellite data, information from local weather stations and feedback from farmers to deliver daily, detailed irrigation scheduling advice via SMS.

Tanzania’s Ministry of Water and Irrigation has developed an ICT strategy, which includes using GIS, radio and cell phones, to deliver irrigation and water services.

A project in Swaziland uses remote sensing and GIS to identify irrigable farmland. The data are analysed to improve the efficiency of project management processes.

There are a wide range of resources available on the web to help agricultural extension services, NGOs and cooperatives develop and maintain irrigation schemes for small-scale farmers.

ICT Update (http://ictupdate.cta.int) is a bimonthly printed bulletin, web magazine, and accompanying email newsletter focusing on the use of information and communication technologies in agriculture in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries. It is published in English and French, by CTA (Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation) in Wageningen in the Netherlands.