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New mapping tool reveals 'best' irrigation options

Irrigation tools are available, but many farmers don't have access to them (© Joe Ronzio/IWMI)
Irrigation tools are available, but many farmers don't have access to them
© Joe Ronzio/IWMI

To help policymakers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia identify which irrigation technologies to invest in, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has developed an interactive, web-based mapping tool: Investment Visualizer. IFPRI research reveals that if farmers in Africa were to tap into the continent's significant irrigation potential to water their crops, they could increase production by 50 per cent.

Claudia Ringler, IFPRI senior researcher, states that the necessary irrigation tools and techniques are available, such as motorised pumps or water harvesting, but many farmers don't have access to them. "These solutions haven't made it into farmers' hands because policymakers haven't provided the enabling environment that would allow these tools to spread," she explains. "But there is increasing realization by investors that smallholder agricultural water technologies can really pay off."

By using Investment Visualizer, users can determine which of the nine smallholder-friendly irrigation options included would be most beneficial to farmers. The tool produces a map of the sub-region or country, along with a number of figures to show the number of people who could be reached by the specific irrigation method and how much smallholders could earn for staple and cash crops if implemented. As an additional source of information, the designers have written nine briefs assessing the regional potential for each of the nine water management techniques.

* Investment Visualizer was created as part of a larger effort, the AgWater Solutions Project.

Date published: September 2012


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