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Irrigation and drainage
Evolution of irrigation development
The irrigation potential in Seychelles is estimated at 1 000 ha. Both irrigation and drainage have taken a tremendous step forward in the last 30 years, from small-scale gardening watered by watering cans to localized and sprinkler irrigation. Two state farms introduced drip irrigation on an experimental basis, which failed due to lack of know-how and exigencies of the operation and maintenance of the overall set-up. Later research focused basically on localized irrigation and results were disseminated to farmers and gradually there was a re-introduction of micro-sprinkler and drip irrigation.
The total area equipped for full/partial control irrigation is 260 ha (2003), of which surface irrigation is 20 ha, sprinkler irrigation 40 ha and localized (drip) irrigation 200 ha (Table 4 and Figure 2). 77 percent of the area equipped for irrigation is actually irrigated. Surface water is used for irrigation. Only during very dry conditions, when surface water starts to dry out, will farmers living at sea level pump groundwater and mix it with surface water to be able to meet the crop water requirements. All irrigation schemes are medium-scale schemes (2-70 ha) and state-owned.
Role of irrigation in agricultural production, the economy and society
The harvested, irrigated and cropped total consists of vegetables (208 ha), pulses (3 ha) and flowers (13 ha) (Table 4 and Figure 3). The main irrigated vegetables and pulses are cabbage, pumpkin, beans, tomatoes, eggplant, cucumber, lettuce, spring onion, cocoyam, capsicum, okra and spices. Crops such as sweet potatoes, cassava, plantains, sugar cane, bananas and citrus fruits are rainfed but irrigated at the planting stage.
The development cost of public surface irrigation schemes is on average US$2 437/ha, and operation and maintenance cost US$500/ha per year. On-farm installation for sprinkler irrigation is around US$6 000/ha and for localized irrigation US$8 000/ha. Operation and maintenance is carried out by a group of workers under the Irrigation Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources. Water supply to the schemes is metered and farmers are billed monthly by the Irrigation Unit for their consumption. Water is distributed according to farm activity and size. Men and women have the same role on the farm.
Status and evolution of drainage systems
Drainage is important in the lowland areas, which experience temporary but high accumulations of water during heavy and intense rainfall. The total irrigated area under drainage is 15 ha. Rainfed areas are not drained. The main drains are constructed by digging and opening the waterway in the natural drainage system to evacuate water during heavy rains. Farmers are responsible for creating secondary and possibly tertiary drains themselves.