The economics of low pressure drip irrigation and hand watering for vegetable production in the Sahel

Woltering, L and Ibrahim, A and Pasternak, D and Ndjeunga, J (2011) The economics of low pressure drip irrigation and hand watering for vegetable production in the Sahel. Agricultural Water Management, 99 (1). pp. 67-73.

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Low pressure drip irrigation is being promoted in Sub Saharan Africa as an alternative to traditional methods of small scale irrigation of vegetables. The African Market Garden (AMG) is a horticultural production system for smallholders based on low-pressure drip irrigation combined with an improved crop management package. The agronomic and economic performance of the AMG is compared to two gardens irrigated manually with watering cans. One of these gardens is managed according to the same improved crop management package as in the AMG, this treatment is called Improved Management (IM). The other garden is managed according to common practices of vegetable producers in the area, this treatment is called the Farmer Practice (FP). Crop productivity, labor and water use were monitored for two vegetable species (okra and eggplants). The experiment was performed on-station in Niger on three adjacent 500 m2 plots in a sandy acid soil. It was found that improved crop management practices greatly enhance crop productivity over traditional methods at comparable production costs. The AMG gave higher crop yields and higher returns to investment than the treatments irrigated with watering cans. Labor accounts for up to 45% of the production cost in vegetable gardens irrigated by hand, where 80% of the producer time is spent on irrigation. The total labor requirement for the drip irrigated AMG was on average 1.1 man hours per day against 4.7 man hours per day for the Farmers Practice on a 500 m2 garden. Returns on labor are at least double for the AMG against the other treatments. The returns on land from eggplant were found to be US$ 1.7, 0.8 and 0.1 per m2 for the AMG, IM and FP respectively. The returns on water for the cultivation of eggplant are around US$ 2 per m3 in the AMG, against US$ 0.1 in the Farmers Practice. This experiment showed the strong positive impact of drip irrigation and improved crop management practices on profits at minimal environmental costs, indicating that transformation of existing practices poses a considerable potential towards sustainable agricultural development

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Smallholder producers; African Market Garden; Drip irrigation, Labor use, Returns on investment, Water application efficiency
Subjects: Others > Watershed Management
Depositing User: Ms K Syamalamba
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2011 07:43
Last Modified: 21 Sep 2011 05:52
Official URL:
Funders: Goverment of Taiwan
Acknowledgement: The authors would like to thank the following people and institutes. Ms Saadaatou Oumarou (student IPR/IFRA de Katibougou, Mali) for assisting in setting up the experiment and the monitoring routine. Dr Alain Ratnadass (CIRAD), Dr Patrice Cadet (Institut de Recherche et Développement) and Mr Adamou Mounkaila for taking root and soil samples for analysis of nematodes and monitoring insect and disease activity in the field. Dr Sanjeet Kumar (AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center) and Mr Issaka Housseini for their regular field visits and discussions on observations. This research was funded by ICRISAT with a contribution from the Taiwan government through the AMIV (Affordable Micro Irrigation for Vegetables) project
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