ICARDA, led by Dr. Vinay Nangia, and in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the National Institute of Agronomic Research Morocco, and the United States Agency for International Development, conducts irrigation research within ICARDA’s Ultra-Low-Energy (ULE) Drip Irrigation Project. The project introduced a drip irrigation system that demands much less energy than a conventional system. 2020 marked the successful completion of online dripper trials on olive and citrus trees, as well as the initiation of inline dripper trials on fruit and vegetable crops. Furthermore, ICARDA entered a public-private research partnership with Jain Irrigation Systems Limited to test and demonstrate ULE drippers for irrigating date palm plantations in six Gulf Cooperation Council countries to save water and energy.
Wastewater treatment and reuse have great potential to contribute towards addressing the Middle East and North Africa water crisis. ICARDA’s ReWater MENA project covering Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon is funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and managed by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI). Led by Dr. Bezaiet Dessalegn, ICARDA manages the Egypt component of the project, focusing on the direct and indirect management and reuse of treated waste water in agriculture. In 2020, the project established a new site in Ismailia, near the Serapeum Wastewater Treatment plant, to assess potential direct reuse options. The production of wheat and barley crops using treated wastewater of permissible water quality – as per the National Reuse Code – was successfully tested.
The supplementary irrigation innovation, developed by ICARDA scientists under the leadership of Dr. Vinay Nangia, is a customizable complementary water management system that enables farmers to control the amount and timing of irrigation in rainfed agricultural areas. The innovation removes the need for large-scale irrigation infrastructure, and diversifies crop management options by enabling individual control in water use, and reducing crop failure risk due to drought. Now used across Africa, China, and India the system improves the resilience of farmers to water-related shocks. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Bank, and the Global Alliance on Climate-Smart Agriculture promote the system as a climate-smart practice. In 2020, the innovation was selected as one of the top 50 CGIAR innovations in the field of irrigation for smallholder farmers and was also included in the International Fund for Agricultural Development’s Panorama Rural Solutions Portal.
ICARDA’s iNASHR project is funded by the German development agency (GIZ) and implemented in partnership with Egypt’s Agricultural Research Center and Access Agriculture. Led by Dr . Bezaiet Dessalegn, the project helps to address Egypt’s water scarcity and soil quality to improve food security for smallholder farming families by promoting sustainable intensification of wheat-based systems by facilitating adoption and multiplication of ICARDA-improved seed varieties, modernizing traditional raised-bed farming methods, and reintroducing a cereal/legume crop rotation on-field, through mechanization. In 2020, 420 demonstration sites were established, of which 16% are owned by women. These were planted with improved varieties of wheat and faba bean using good agricultural practices. Moreover, about 400 individuals, of which 21% were women, directly benefited from capacity-building efforts including farmer field schools and training of trainers. A total of 2,495 direct and 14,525 indirect beneficiaries were reached during the reporting period. ICARDA also scaled up its raised bed (RB) wheat planting technology in Egypt. Results obtained in farmers’ fields during 2020 showed a clear advantage of the RB technology with a 31% saving in irrigation water, 32% increase in wheat grain yield, and 98% increase in water use efficiency.
At the end of 2020, ICARDA, led by Dr. Aymen Frija, launched a new GIZ-funded project in line with the Tunisian 2050 soil and water protection strategy to develop soil and water conservation technologies tailored to specific, and highly variable, social and ecological contexts. These technologies have been upscaled across the relevant regions. A key component of the initiative is in establishing appropriate indicators and tools for monitoring the impact of scaling investments.
ICARDA, in collaboration with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and various federal and provincial institutes, developed a business model to transfer land and water management technologies to smallholder farmers in Pakistan. The project trained ASPs on technologies and business, disseminating 11 technologies to 1,266 farmers over an area of 12,474 acres (5,050 ha). These services included the installation and repair of drip systems, the sale of Biozote (bio-fertilizer) and gypsum, planting of crops on ridges and beds, laser land leveling, soil testing for accurate and balanced use of fertilizers, and wheat planting with zero till drill. The Happy Seeder (a tractor-mounted machine that cuts and lifts rice straw) and a banana residue chopper, reduced residue burning to prepare land after crops.
Our scientists conducted 45 surveys with the ASPs to document the impact of the technologies through assessing income generation rates and its sustainability.All the ASPs reported that they are satisfied with their business and that they would continue it after end of the project. The study showed almost 50% of the ASPs earned between 100,000 rupees (US $1300) to 300,000 rupees (US $3900) in one season.