Agricultural Water Management Interventions (AWMI) for Sustainable Agricultural Intensification (SAI) in the Chinyanja Triangle
Everisto Mapedza. (18/6/2015). Agricultural Water Management Interventions (AWMI) for Sustainable Agricultural Intensification (SAI) in the Chinyanja Triangle.
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. IWMI is conducting research in the area under the Drylands Systems Program, and of particular interest is Strategic Research Theme 3 on “Sustainable intensification and Market Linkages”. As part of this research, there is a need to explore possible agricultural water management interventions (AWMI) that could be used to sustainably intensify agricultural production as well as flag research issues. Drawing on various sources of literature from internet searches and other sources such as journal articles and books, this report discusses potentially applicable AWMI for sustainable agricultural intensification (SAI) applicable to the Chinyanja Triangle. A summary of the agricultural water management technologies and practices currently found in the area is given including the adoption and perceived impacts. In summary the identified technologies are for small scale production and their adoption and impact is mixed, but some hold potential. The report then discusses all possible AWMI starting with large scale irrigation intervention down to drip kit irrigation and soil and water conservation practices (including conservation agriculture). After each intervention is discussed, prospects for SAI using that AWMI in the Chinyanja Triangle are highlighted. The AWMI are compared in a summary table in the Appendix with respect key advantages and disadvantages and the prospects for SAI. Based on literature review, 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 practices. 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 upscaling 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 genderbased constraints to accessing new opportunities and options, analysis of the suitability of proposed best bet options in the area, research into acceptability and adaptability 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.