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Drip Irrigation Options for Smallholder Farmers in Eastern and Southern Africa

Smallholder farmers in the semi-arid regions of eastern and southern Africa have to depend on erratic, unreliable and low rainfall for their livelihoods. Subsistence staple food crops are generally grown under rainfed conditions. Consequently there is a growing interest in complementing this risky rainfed food production with cultivation of high-value vegetable crops and fruits. But in most cases this means these small-scale vegetable gardens and orchards must be irrigated in order to assure an economic return. Drip irrigation methods minimize the non-productive water losses associated with conventional irrigation, e.g. from evaporation and soil runoff, and thus can make more efficient use of the already minimal water supplies in these arid areas. But until recently drip irrigation technology had been associated with costly investments available only to large commercial farmers. Now there is growing interest in the technique and many efforts are being made around the world to develop low-cost, simple, drip irrigation systems suitable for smallholder farmers. This handbook presents some of these drip irrigation options that can be promoted by extension officers in eastern and southern Africa. It describes the most interesting small-scale low-cost drip irrigation methods of which the author and the other contributors have practical experience. It also gives a brief overview of methods that have been used successfully in other parts of the world with details of how to obtain further information about them or order equipment.

SIJALI, I.V. (2001): Drip Irrigation Options for Smallholder Farmers in Eastern and Southern Africa. Stockholm: Sida's Regional Land Management Unit URL [Accessed: 29.02.2012]