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Solar-powered irrigation significantly improves diet and income in rural sub-Saharan Africa
Date:1/10/2010

comparison of the solar-powered drip irrigation systems to traditional methods. "Household surveys were conducted in both treatment and control villages upon installation (November 2007) and following one year of garden operation (November 2008), and included detailed questions concerning consumption and agricultural production, as well as other socioeconomic, health and general questions," the authors wrote.

Striking results

The results were striking. The three solar-powered irrigation systems supplied on average 1.9 metric tons of produce per month, including tomatoes, okra, peppers, eggplants, carrots and other greens, the authors found. Woman who used solar-powered irrigation became strong net producers in vegetables with extra income earned from sales significantly increasing their purchases of staples and protein during the dry season, and oil during the rainy season. During the first year of operation, the women farmers kept an average of 18 percent by weight 8.8 kilograms (19.4 pounds) per month of the produce grown with the solar-powered systems for home consumption and sold the rest in local markets.

"Garden products penetrated local markets significantly," the authors found. "Vegetable consumption increased during the rainy season (the time of greatest surplus for the women's group farmers) for the entire four-village sample of households."

Survey respondents also were asked about their ability to meet their household food needs. Seventeen percent of the project beneficiaries said they were "less likely to feel chronically food-insecure. In short, the photovoltaic drip irrigation systems had a remarkable effect on both year-round and seasonal food access," the authors said.

Nutrition and sustainability

In terms of nutrition, vegetable intake across all villages increased by about 150 grams per person per day during the rainy season. But in villages irrigated with solar-powered syste
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Contact: Mark Shwartz
mshwartz@stanford.edu
831-915-0088
Stanford University
Source:Eurekalert

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