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ANNEX IV Report on discussions


The opening session of the workshop was chaired by Dr. T. Takavarasha the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture. Ms. V. Sekitoleko, Sub-Regional Representative, FAO Sub-Regional Office for East and Southern Africa, welcomed the participants. She began her speech by reminding participants of the international forum such as the World Food Summit which adopted the Rome Declaration which had considered irrigation and water control as one of the priority actions in the context of agricultural development and food security, stressed the heavy task and important role given to women in this context and considered the success already confirmed by small-scale farming in the African region.

His Excellency, the Minister of Agriculture explained that some of Zimbabwe's priorities were corresponding perfectly with the objectives of this workshop, namely, investments in water harvesting and irrigation, sound water policy and training of designers and irrigators. He suggested that the often used question - can we afford to invest in irrigation? - had to be changed into - can we afford NOT to invest in irrigation?

Mr. H. Wolter, Chief, Water Resources, Development and Management Service, FAO, stressed that the workshops objective was to bring together governments, manufacturers, traders, farmers, NGOs and aid agencies to work out and define strategies to provide and facilitate access to small-scale irrigation technology. He also pointed out that the workshop was organized and financed by FAO and IPTRID with financial topping-up from the Global Water Programme.


Mr. A. Kandiah, FAO, summarized the findings of the FAO - IPTRID mission which had visited selected countries in East and Southern Africa and was now providing the material for the present workshop. Irrigation development in Africa has expanded at a much slower rate than in Asia, regardless of the fact that countries in Africa give importance to small-scale agriculture and irrigation. The main reasons for such slow development are the fact that the costs for irrigation development in Africa is much higher than in Asia, credit facilities are inadequate, skilled labour is short and after-sales service and provision of spare parts is inadequate. The mission believed that technology transfer from Asia to Africa could improve the situation and found the following technologies appropriate for transfer: treadle pumps and other manual pumps, including animal powered pumps, hydraulic rams, motorized pumps, low-cost drilling technologies, water harvesting structures, sprinkler irrigation and micro-irrigation systems.

Mr. R. Purcell, IPTRID, reported on the developments of low-cost technologies for small-scale irrigation in Kenya where, already in the past, gravity irrigation was practised and pumped irrigation of micro schemes is rapidly developing. Simple and easily transportable, locally made, pedal pumps are sold with success on the free market at a very reasonable price (US$ 72.5 per unit) as well as locally made sprinklers.

Kenya's experience shows that while the government has an important role in supporting small-scale irrigation development, the private sector is able to promote irrigation more rapidly and without the adverse effects of subsidies.

During the discussion which followed, it was remembered that inland valley development could be another field of potential development. Some speakers mentioned the fact that quality control of local manufactured equipment was important and others raised reservations concerning the introduction of new technologies without follow-up of field applications as well as monitoring of water resources (depletion of shallow groundwater resources because of introducing cheap pumping facilities).

Mr. M. Gakundi, SISDO, Kenya, explained their credit programme which is based on the principle that credit is organized and monitored by an NGO but that credit itself is provided by local banks. Experience has shown that this system provides a much higher rate of payback than credit facilities provided directly by government. An interesting aspect of this is that SISDO requests government certification for the existence and good performance of farmer associations and an official quality certification for equipment to be purchased. The following discussion revealed that the "powerful" situation of SISDO was due to the fact that they were the only owners of equipment left for which credit had been organized until full repayment and that SISDO was charging for its services while the monitoring was still financed from donor funds. Comments from the participants indicated that the smallholder land tenure system of Kenya, based on the freehold tittle deeds, could be another good reason for the success. However the land tenure system in most African countries is based on the traditional communal system.


Mr. E. Perry, USA, reported on the successful transfer of technology of the treadle pump, hand-dug tube wells, wrapped filters and wash-bowl techniques for groundwater development from Asia to West Africa. It was reported that due to the high cost of fuel, farmers with areas of up to 0.5 hectares, already owning mechanized pumps, have switched to treadle pumps. During the following discussion the importance of electrification was stressed as well as the need to accompany large-scale pump promotion with the monitoring system for shallow groundwater. It was also remembered that efficient increase of mechanized pumps could be obtained by choosing equipment with efficient and low-fuel consumption rates.

Ms. M. de Lange, South Africa, reported on the promotion of low-cost and water saving technologies for small-scale irrigation. She explained that small-scale would not represent only the size of the scheme but would also give indications on the risk factor, a one-hectare scheme of commercial flower irrigation will not be considered small-scale. She explained that South Africa was still giving importance to gravity irrigation but that they were presently undergoing considerable changes and approach as the equipment available, and in the past used for large-scale farmers, had to be adapted to the small-scale use.

Mr. R. Florin, FAO, presented the paper of Mr. R. Sivanappan, India, (absent due to an air traffic strike) on technologies for water harvesting and soil moisture conservation, underlining that soil moisture conservation was heavily related to integrated watershed management which is essential to protect the downstream irrigation schemes. He stressed that these activities required important financial investments and active participation of direct and indirect beneficiaries which is not possible without support from community and government structures. The audience was reminded that water harvesting for irrigation was usually more expensive than other irrigation developments but had the advantage of being developed in areas where no river or groundwater was available. During the following discussion it was remembered that good tank and dam sites were usually situated on communal land and that mobilization of future users for their development was more difficult than for other irrigation schemes.

In summing up the day's work Mr. Wolter, FAO, confirmed that there was a need for upgrading irrigation technology, that technology transfer should be demand driven and that access to credit and input credit had to be improved. It was understood that low-cost technology is only a starting point for development which should leave the opportunities open for upgrading and further development. The government's role should concentrate mainly on water resources assessment and development of main hydraulic structures (including dams) which required financial support. There was a consensus that watershed management and small-dam construction was not easy to be implemented at the communal level, that a certain degree of mechanization was necessary.



Mr. C. Sundaram, Secretary SIEMA, reviewed the manufacture of irrigation equipment and supply sector of India, which produces more than 3.4 million pumps annually, of which 97 percent are electric pumps. He explained that India could offer extremely competitive prices because of its mass-production, cheap labour and in-country availability of most of the prime material necessary for production. Pump production is subject to a tight quality control system by the Bureau of Indian Standards, in fact farmers are only receiving bank loans for equipment with a BIS testing certificate.

Mr. F. Koegelenberg, South Africa, reviewing the manufacture of irrigation equipment and supply sector of South Africa, said that most of the equipment produced at present had been designed for commercial farming, and was therefore not particularly suitable for small-scale farming.

The sector is still lacking information on the demand/market situation for small-scale irrigation equipment and the manufacturers are only now starting to look into the needs of small-scale farming concerning irrigation equipment. Nevertheless, a very rudimentary mini-drip system for the use and disposal of domestic waste water and light-weight plastic flat pipes for tertiaries and main furrows have been developed and are suitable for urban/periurban and small-scale irrigation.

Mr. W. Zhou, China, presented the general situation of China's irrigation sector and, in particular, the status of manufactured irrigation equipment and supply. The sector is very much oriented towards the national needs of irrigation equipment and its servicing networks cover all rural areas, therefore exportation of such equipment is very limited, compared to the overall production. Items of particular interest sold outside China were: turn-key mini-size, mobile sprinkler systems, small hydraulic rams in PVC, low pressure pipes and inflatable dams and weirs.

Mr. L. Egan, International Development Enterprises (IDE), USA, reported on the experience in mass marketing of small-scale affordable, irrigation, devices, mainly treadle and other manually driven pumps, explaining the approach of targeting individual farmers, manufacturing locally by the private sector and of avoiding the provision of subsidies. He underlined the importance of marketing, but stated that selling equipment and providing and administrating credit for purchase was not viable, because the latter required a completely different structure and expertise than the selling, which had to be close to the rural population. Based on IDE's experience on large-scale promotion and sales of treadle pumps in Asia and the initial assessment work done in various parts of Africa, it seems that the potential for dissemination of these simple devices on a large scale in Africa are great.

Mr. M. Fisher, Appropriate Technologies for Enterprise Creation (ApproTEC), Kenya, reported on the success of their locally constructed pedal pump "Moneymaker", of which over 1 350 units have been sold since October 1996 for a price permitting profit to manufacturers as well as provision for marketing and after-sales services, but still affordable to individual farmers (about US$ 72). He, as the previous speaker, underlined the importance of marketing and demonstration, which, according to ApproTEC's experience, should not be done at farm level only, but mainly at busy places such as markets, schools, etc. Another important issue considered is the quality control of a product/trademark, as low quality, pirate copies of the product might badly influence the marketing of the original device.

Mr. E. Perry, Appropriate Technology International (ATI), USA, reviewed their experience in Sub-Saharan Africa on low-cost irrigation technologies for food security, in particular the dissemination of treadle pumps, of hand augured tubewells and of washbore techniques for groundwater development (in Senegal, Mali, Niger and Benin). He stressed the importance to create competition among local manufacturers, in order to lower production costs, and said that the dissemination of low-cost technologies was not their final objective for development, but was only a starting point for longer-term, sustainable development.

In the afternoon of session IV, a visit to the Zimbabwe Irrigation Technology Center (ZITC) of AGRITEX (Department of Agriculture Technical and Extension Services, Ministry of Agriculture) was organized. ZITC's main functions are: the testing of irrigation equipment on behalf of the government or private suppliers, manufacturers or farmers; the development and verification of standards for irrigation equipment; and the demonstration, training and dissemination of irrigation technologies. At the same time a poster session for irrigation equipment manufacturers and suppliers was organized with the participation of equipment manufacturers from China and India, and local suppliers from Malawi and Zimbabwe.


Mr. M. Rukuni, University of Zimbabwe, presented his views on creating and enabling an environment for the uptake of low-cost irrigation equipment by small-scale farmers, arguing that the future of irrigation in Eastern and Southern Africa is in smallholder production, marketing and export of high value commodities, particularly fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as cut flowers. Consequently, policies have to shift from large to small-scale, and designs have to emphasize small, owner-operated systems.

Mr. K. Palanisami, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, India, summarized the economic aspects of the findings of the FAO-IPTRID mission in selected countries in East and Southern Africa which, as stated previously, had provided the material for the present workshop. He concluded that irrigation development, particularly small-scale irrigation, will be an important component of a diversification and expansion strategy to strengthen food security for the future and that there is a need to identify crops and irrigation techniques which will give higher returns to irrigation water and overall investment.


The plenary was split into three simultaneous working groups, to discuss in detail the papers presented and contributions made to the workshop. The conclusions and recommendations of the three groups were presented in Part I.


In the discussion on the findings and recommendations of the three working groups, several speakers stressed the need to improve the farmer's access to real-time information on marketing prices of crops, transport facilities to the marketing centers, credit facilities and new equipment and technologies available on the market. It was furthermore noted that, while during the present workshop only the exploitation of shallow groundwater was promoted, there would be occasions where development and exploitation of deep groundwater resources would be more reliable and still economically feasible.

The overall workshop recommendations were then presented and endorsed by the plenary, after some minor corrections and modifications. The adopted recommendations are presented in Part I.

Finally, at 12.00 hours, the workshop was closed by the Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Land and Water Resources, on behalf of the Minister of Lands and Water Resources.

In the afternoon, there was a field trip to Nyadire where ten smallholder irrigation schemes provided the exposure of the participants to a sample of smallholder irrigation development in Zimbabwe. The scheme, which covers a total of nine hectares, apportioned to 18 smallholders, is managed by the farmers through their irrigation management committee. The farmers are able to operate and maintain the drag-hose sprinkler system, in view of its simplicity, and cover all the operation and maintenance costs. Farmers are growing a number of vegetable crops and maize, resulting in good financial returns (around US$ 2 500 per 0.5 hectare) enabling them to maintain a better standard of living from 0.5 hectare each, than their counterparts in the dryland are achieving with five hectare holdings.




Prevention of water pollution by agriculture and related activities, 1993 (E S)


Irrigation water delivery models, 1994 (E)


Water harvesting for improved agricultural production, 1994 (E)


Use of remote sensing techniques in irrigation and

drainage, 1995 (E)


Irrigation management transfer, 1995 (E)


Methodology for water policy review and reform,


1995 (E)

Irrigation in Africa in figures/L'irrigation en Afrique en chiffres, 1995 (E/F)


Irrigation scheduling: from theory to practice,

1996 (E)


Irrigation in the Near East Region in figures,

1997 (E)


Quality control of wastewater for irrigated crop production, 1997 (E)


Seawater intrusion in coastal aquifers - Guidelines for study, monitoring and control, 1997 (E)


Modernization of irrigation schemes: past experiences and future options, 1997 (E)


Management of agricultural drainage water quality, 1 997 (E)


Irrigation technology transfer in support of food security, 1997 (E)

Availability: December 1997

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- Multilingual

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Out of print

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In preparation

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The FAO Technical Papers are available through the authorized FAO Sales Agents or directly from Sales and Marketing Group, FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy.

A number of studies, including a recent joint mission by FAO and the International Program for Technology Research in Irrigation and Drainage, have shown that lack of access to affordable, improved and water-saving irrigation technologies, particularly by small-scale farmers, was one of the major constraints to irrigation development. The Subregional Workshop on Irrigation Technology Transfer in Support of Food Security was organized to discuss issues and opportunities for enhancement of farmers' access to affordable, improved and water-efficient irrigation technologies. The proceedings are presented in this publication, in two main parts. Part I gives the recommendations of the workshop adopted by the participants at the plenary session and the recommendations of the working groups. Part II contains the technical papers presented by resource persons and representatives of the irrigation equipment manufacture and supply sector. A key recommendation of the workshop was that governments, in collaboration with relevant international institutions, should formulate and implement national action programmes on technology transfer and adoption in support of small-scale irrigation.

ISBN 92-5-104072-9

ISSN 1020-1203



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