Experts believe that improving water management capabilities could unleash smallholder farming and it could become a major driver of economic growth, poverty reduction and food security.
One example of an innovative farmer is Purushottam Patel, in Gujarat, India. He uses the dung from his eight cows to generate biogas. This fuel is then fed to a pump that runs partly on diesel and partly on gas. The novel arrangement has saved him USD 400 per year in fuel costs. It also has improved the water supply for his farm, which has enabled him to double his crop production. Mr Patel now sells water to adjacent farmsfurther enhancing local food production.
"The technologies for smallholder water management are already with us," says Giordano. "Cheap pumps and new ways of powering them are transforming farming and boosting incomes all over Africa and Asia. Simple tools for drilling wells and capturing rainwater have enabled many farmers to produce more crops in the dry season, hugely boosting their incomes."
There are risks to unchecked expansion of smallholder water management, however. The poorest farmers, especially women, still struggle to find the resources needed to access new technologies, which may lead to greater inequities. And if farmers engage in a water free-for-all, supplies in some areas could dwindle past sustainable levels.
AgWater partners believe new institutional arrangements are needed to address these challenges. They also are focusing on innovative business models that could help improve water access, such as pump-on-a-bike hire schemes, where cycling entrepreneurs tour rural areas, renting out pumps strapped to their bicycles.
The research has already influenced government policy in at least two places. In West Bengal, India, the state g
|Contact: James Clarke