Peddling Toward Prosperity: Profile #1 Building Markets for Micro-Irrigation Systems in Asia and Africa
13 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2014
Date Written: August 1, 2010
Of the three billion people in the developing world, fully two-thirds live on small farms. Among them are over 800 million people who earn under a dollar a day or less — the majority of those globally who endure absolute poverty.
Smallholder farmers have meager incomes largely because the methods they employ undervalue their time, the scale of the plots they cultivate under-utilizes their assets, and the mix of crops they plant under-performs potential alternatives in the marketplace. One simple, proven solution to these three related problems exists: micro-irrigation. Around the world, most smallholder farmers who lack access to a stream or pond can reach water by digging a 5- to 60-foot well. Where available, technologies that are both affordable to dollar-a-day farmers and efficient for the irrigation of small plots from shallow wells provide a mechanism for increasing labor productivity, expanding planting options, extending the growing season, and obtaining higher prices in the market. The results are increased income and improved well-being for smallholder farmers.
This profile describes an approach to building markets for micro-irrigation systems that has been successfully employed in South Asia and Africa, reaching more than two million households and typically boosting the incomes of small farmers by over 500 percent. The approach has three elements: designing agricultural tools, notably treadle-pumps and drip-irrigation systems, that can be used cost-effectively by dollar-a-day farmers; seeding supply chains to ensure broad availability; and innovating new marketing approaches in order to build market acceptance.
Keywords: technology, development, micro-irrigation, farms, entrepreneurship
JEL Classification: N50, 011, 012, 013, 015
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