Pump it up, Africa!
With irrigation Africa could feed the world
This may sound surprising, considering nearly 239 million people on the continent are hungry, but 60 percent of the world’s uncultivated arable land is in Africa.
So why isn’t it full of big, lush vegetable gardens? Lack of irrigation.
Irrigation is an old technique, not flashy like some new technologies, but investing in simple irrigation systems could actually turn Africa into the “green” continent.
Right now, much of Sub-Saharan Africa relies on rainwater for crops. But climate change is making rainfall less reliable and drought more common. Farmers who collect rain water and use it on their crops during dry periods can double or even quadruple the amount of food they produce.
To conserve water farmers can use drip irrigation -- a steady dripping of water directly onto the soil surface or right into the roots. This method can reduce water use by 70 percent and increase output by anywhere from 20 to 90 percent.
Drip irrigation is far better than pumping water from underground aquifers, many of which are now in danger of being drained. Also, water from aquifers tends to degrade soil quality by leaving behind salts.
Today it’s easier than ever to irrigate because of inexpensive individual pumps and simplified irrigation systems.
An increasing world population means that making land more productive is essential for food security. By developing irrigation, Africa can produce higher yields, higher incomes and better diets, and can potentially provide food for a more populous world in the future.