Agricultural Water Management Interventions (Awmi) for Sustainable Agricultural Intensification (SAI) in the Chinyanja Triangle Area of Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia
The rural communities of the Chinyanja Triangle are considered among some of the poorest in the world and lack access to food for 3 to 4 months per year due to the rainfall variability manifested in drought or floods. These communities can benefit from the application of locally appropriate technologies, such as irrigation, to stabilise agricultural production and consequently improve their food security situation as well as their livelihood. The main aim of the paper is to identify and analyse agricultural water management interventions (AWMI), with a focus on irrigation, but also soil and water conservation and conservation agriculture, that are suitable for sustainable agricultural intensification (SAI) for rural livelihoods improvement in the Chinyanja Triangle. Based on literature analysis, scale of operation, technologies currently practiced in the area, and the potential for uptake with low development and operation investment, six AWMI best bet options are identified. These comprise; small scale irrigation with river diversions, smallholder irrigation with motorised pumping, dambo irrigation farming, drip kits (to include bucket and drum kits) with treadle pumps in areas with shallow water tables, small reservoirs, and soil and water conservation technologies including conservation agriculture. The selection of a particular AWMI (e.g., smallholder irrigation) does not necessarily preclude the selection of another AWMI in this group of six (e.g., drip kits). For each of these, the envisaged practical up-scaling pathways are discussed. Most of the up-scaling pathways require that agricultural production be linked to markets for the produce so that the systems are self-sustaining in terms of operation costs. The report highlights research issues that need to be explored. These include; systems approach constraints analysis to SAI in the area, assessment of farmer attributes for enhanced technology uptake, analysis of development opportunities including and beyond AWMI, assessment of gender-based constraints to accessing new opportunities and options, analysis of the suitability of proposed best bet options in the area, research into acceptability and adoptability of drip kit technology in the Chinyanja Triangle, and research exercise to apply the Targeting AGwater Management Interventions (TAGMI) model to the technologies that have been identified for the Chinyanja Triangle to try and find out which ones have a high likelihood of succeeding if implemented in the area.