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Prospects for agricultural water management
In 1990, the country’s target was to reach self-sufficiency in rice production and the major focus for increasing rice production is the further development of the inland valley swamps. Such developments have largely failed to date for lack of appropriate water control technologies adapted to the farmers’ needs, and the proper economic incentives. The development of wetlands to allow for double cropping has so far proved to be unsuitable and costly. Future efforts will probably concentrate on increasing yields in swamp rice cultivation, by concentrating on the most productive land and intensifying the use of available production technology. The returns from mechanization have proved to be higher in the riverine grasslands than in the other rice cultivation ecologies. Bolis, given their poor soil conditions, are not expected to play a major role in the future in rice production.
Uncertainty and transition characterize the current situation and there is no clear agriculture and food security policy and strategy at the central government level. The anticipated support from the African Development Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) should assist in strengthening the capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS) to develop its functions and to formulate appropriate policies for, amongst all the other sectors, water resources management and irrigation.
The African Development Bank has shown interest in financing the Rhombhe and Rolakoh Irrigation Studies programme (US$2 million) and study activities are expected to begin soon.
The future of irrigation and agriculture in general is primarily related to a return to political stability.