M a r k e t N e w s

Ethiopia: Raising Awareness of Farmers to Use Irrigation Water Efficiently

Posted on : Tuesday, 20th September 2016

 Many experts agreed that small scale irrigation is helpful for enhancing productivity and ensuring food security particularly in the drought areas. To reverse the impact due to the negative repercussion of extreme weather condition, farmers should try to practice irrigation with the support of extension workers.

Dr. Tilahun Hordofa has carried out researches on the necessity of irrigation and drainage system at the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources of Ethiopia. According to him, small scale irrigation helps to enhance food production and stabilize food price in urban centers. Irrigation can be exercised through retaining of rain water and revitalizing streams and rivers; and currently such practice is known nation wide. The practice is also helpful to overcome drought and natural calamity related problems.
However, though the government has been showing commitment for scaling up small scale irrigation, in various places, farmers are seen misusing water sources due to lack of awareness. As a result, the inflow of excessive water to the farm destroy plants, erodes soil and deteriorates soil fertility. As to Tilahun, farmers believe that water is valuable for raising productivity and let excessive water to the farm; as the result, soil nutrients taken away by water. " In the country, there are crops, fruits and vegetables cultivated by small scale irrigation. Among these: maize,onion, tomato,pepper,salad,cabbage can be mentioned," said Merga Kersi who works at the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources as irrigation and drainage engineer.
According to Merga, the government emphasizes the expansion of small scale irrigation because the practice could liberate farmers from rain dependency; in addition, it enables them to produce twice or three times per year. However, he suggested that farmers utilize water uneconomically and farm lands are eroded by water.
He further said that though irrigation is expanding from time to time; the arbitrary use of water causes the wastage of the resource. Consequently, plants became dried up and the salt content of the water increased which in turn causes soil infertility. In this regard, some places in Somali and Afar states can be mentioned as the case in point. In Amibara woreda of Afar State and Gode area of Somali State, due to excessive use of water, the salt content of the water was increased. Because of this, the farm land has been totally destroyed. Restoring the content of the soil is an expensive task which goes beyond the financial capacity of farmers.
Hence, utilizing the water cautiously and economically is vital. It is understood that water is one of the driving forces for enhancing agricultural productivity; however, recklessness in the utilization of water costs heavy price. Hence, farmers should never forget to pay careful attention to the pieces of advice given by extension workers as input for effective utilization and for enhancing productivity at large. " The utilization of irrigation water has its own technique based on the soil type, the plant and the amount of water; disregarding these acts makes the entire effort futile," Merga stated. As to him, irrigation system in this regard has high value in utilizing water economically and reducing salt risk; thus,it is better for farmers to use the system as an alternative.
Water is a valuable resource used for various purposes; but it should be utilized systematically. The uneconomical usage of irrigation water also observed in South Gonder Zone. In order to cultivate the farms in these areas, it is appropriate to use the ground water. In connection to this, the contribution of extension workers in supporting the farmers is essential.
According to the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, there is about 5.3 million hectares of land which can be utilized for irrigation farm while only 3 percent of it has been utilized. To maximize the irrigation farm at the small scale level, the practice should be enhanced. Currently, the majority of the farmers are engaged in rainfed small farms which make them susceptible to drought and uncertainty.
Thus, to overcome the problem, the irrigation should be enhanced. Attaining food security in traditional way of farming is impossible; hence, with the support of extension workers improving farming system is essential.

Source : allafrica.com
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