- The kit has all the basics for adaptation in rural settings; affordability, accessibility, and ease of use and maintenance.
- This micro-irrigation kit brings much needed watering solution in arid and semi-arid regions as well as in the highlands where access to water can be limited.
- The project has already reached some 4,275 micro-investors operating across 115 savings and loan groups
A low-tech micro-irrigation solution is providing high impact results for thousands of farmers in Tanzania.
The tech is a small irrigation gear referred to as a micro-irrigation kit that has been introduced to farmers in Tanzania’s Southern regions like in the Kigoma Region.
The kit has all the basics for adaptation in rural settings; affordability, accessibility, and ease of use and maintenance.
This micro-irrigation kit brings much needed watering solution in arid and semi-arid regions as well as in the highlands where access to water can be limited.
The irrigation solution has been introduced by UNCDF under its ongoing Inclusive Digital Economies (IDE) through the Youth and Women Economic Empowerment (YWEE) program.
“The kit includes a drip irrigation system, which delivers water directly to the roots of the plants. This helps to minimize water waste and ensures that the plants receive the precise amount of water they need to thrive,” explains Meg Edwin, UNCDF-IDE, Communications Lead.
More than your average do-it-yourself, bottle-drip irrigation, the kit comes complete with a timer, “…which allows farmers to schedule watering times and conserve water,” adds Edwin.
UNCDF-IDE said this technology empowers farmers to conserve water and reduce labor costs, boosting productivity as a result. With increased productivity, the farmers earn more revenue and are able to improve their livelihoods and that of their families,
“This not only benefits the farmers themselves but also helps to ensure food security in the region,” she adds.
The permaculture initiative is implemented in rural Tanzania by working with local organizations including the Kigoma Joint Programme (KJP) with support from the Norwegian Church Aid (NCA).
So far, the project has already reached some 4,275 micro-investors operating across 115 savings and loan groups, showing its multiple benefit potential in creating employment all along the agriculture value chain.
Women benefit from cost effective irrigation solutions
In rural Africa, it is women who carry the bigger portion of farming work and such programs that help improve access to water are vital to easing the burden of farming and freeing up time for other economic activities.
It is also vital that funding is made accessible to these women as well as the necessary farming inputs.
“Micro-investment opportunities, which provide farmers with the tools and resources they need to increase productivity and grow their businesses, have been particularly successful,” reveals Edwin.
A case study afforded by the project managers is that of the Hiari Youth Group. Initially, the group was started as a savings and loan group and was made up of seven women.
The group started operating with the basic goal of raising funds to purchase the needed agricultural inputs to grow staples. However, thanks to the NCA project the women moved on to venture into horticulture.
By applying the simple drip irrigation technology, the group started growing vegetables starting with four initial beds and expanding to twenty-nine gardens growing a range of vegetables including tomatoes, cucumbers, and cabbages among others.
The initiative facilitators point out that horticulture was a wise business decision because it has a short production cycle and has a large market due to the high level of vegetable consumption as an affordable source of vitamins for most rural families.
“The group has been able to generate a profit of more than 2 million Tanzania shillings within six months,” she attested.
With the raised funding, the group has been able to expand its ventures further through the purchase of more than six acres of land on which they now grow the staples that they originally set out to grow i.e maize, beans, and other cereals.
Following the success, the members have also started individual ventures with at least each member having two or more kitchen gardens at home aside from the larger group vegetable garden.
“We are now more confident in our agribusiness prospects, as our saving wallet allows us to purchase high-quality agricultural inputs,” testified one Nengarivo Losai, a member of the Hiari Youth Group in Kibondo.
“By providing them with the tools they need to grow their business in a traditionally female-dominated value chain, these farmers are able to increase their income and support their families,” notes
The project lead says the project has in turn empowered women all across the region, and in so doing has helped increase gender equality. As she explained, with increased income, women become part of the family decision makers which serves to build stronger homes and stronger communities.
Need for policy change to support women in agriculture
In order for farmers to be able to afford climate-smart technologies, they need adequate access to finance. Government policies have improved in this area, but a lot remains to be done to ensure that women farmers, especially those who aren’t in a position to use land as collateral can access loans.
One of the main components of the programme being implemented by UN Women is the promotion of land ownership for women farmers, but there needs to be comprehensive action to eliminate other barriers to financial services, such as lowering interest rates, allowing movable collateral and designing longer repayment terms.
At the same time, it is important to facilitate the availability of climate-smart technology at a reasonable price, by creating demand and funding domestic manufacturers.
There is also a need to increase policy interventions on environmental protection, with stricter enforcement of regulations like the 60-meter law, which prohibits economic activity within 60 meters of a water source.
According to UN Women, in order for farmers to be able to afford climate-smart technologies like the UNCDF drip irrigation kit, there is need to increase their access to fuding.
As in the example above, it is only through intevention by UCDF that the women group were able to scale and improve farm produce.
“Government policies have improved in this area, but a lot remains to be done to ensure that women farmers, especially those who aren’t in a position to use land as collateral can access loans,” notes a recent UN Women report.
In the report, the authors point out that UN Women is in this regard working to promote land ownership for women farmers; “but there needs to be comprehensive action to eliminate other barriers to financial services, such as lowering interest rates, allowing movable collateral and designing longer repayment terms.”
“At the same time, it is important to facilitate the availability of climate-smart technology at a reasonable price, by creating demand and funding domestic manufacturers,” reads the report.