Category: Drip Irrigation -
5 January 2016
Sustainable solutions to boost cacao production in Honduras
San Pedro Sula, Honduras. On November 5th, 2015, Raphael Ayestas from the iDE Honduras team gave a presentation on the current state of supplementary irrigation on cacao at the National Committee of Cacao Chain (Comité Nacional de Cadena de Cacao). The event, hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (Secretaría de Agricultura y Ganadería, SAG), is held every three months and serves as a platform for introducing new technologies and sharing best practices.
Mr. Ayestas explained to the audience how iDE’s innovative technologies, including low-pressure drip irrigation as well as the solar pump, have helped cacao farmers rescue their harvests in spite of the devastating drought brought on by climate change. The biggest advantage of iDE´s low-pressure drip system is that it is custom designed for each individual crop—one can install the emitters only where needed and therefore increase the net income per drop of water. A second feature worth highlighting is the fact that no expensive fuel pumps or filtration systems are required to make it function, since it is a low-pressure system.
Dr. Santiago Cerna is one cacao grower who has greatly benefitted from iDE’s technological strategies.
“I started growing cacao in 1986 on an old plot of land where coffee had been previously harvested—I planted 8,000 trees that year. By 2009 we had begun toasting, peeling, crushing, and mixing the seeds to obtain small chocolate taps for selling in Tegucigalpa’s biggest farmers’ market.”
However, Dr. Cerna began having issues with Choco-Cha, his cacao business, with an unexpected drought in 2012. “We were trying to save our little trees by irrigating with a backpack sprayer but even so, we lost about 30% of our crops.”
The following year, Dr. Cerna visited several institutions for guidance on how to deal with that year’s dry season, when he finally met iDE’s Productivity Manager Roque Almendares. “Mr. Almendares proved to be very resourceful and sent an engineer to our farm right away. He evaluated our plot and quickly came up with a solution—low-pressure drip irrigation. Thanks to iDE, we overcame the dry season and my dream of becoming a cacao farmer became a reality once again.”
Recently, iDE has conducted several successful interventions in other regions of Honduras including Diamante de Sión, Atlántida. These farmers have witnessed the immediate positive impact of supplementary drip. Unfortunately, these farmers, who have been working with FHIA (Honduran Foundation for Agricultural Research) and the Canadian Development Agency (now DFATD), have not had access to credit to invest in irrigation systems. Nonetheless, iDE, together with SDC funded PROCACAHO, led by FUNDER, facilitates credit services along with technical assistance on rainwater harvesting and irrigation. Hopefully these farmers in Atlántida will soon be as happy with their harvests as Dr. Cerna is with his.
Below: iDE Honduras Country Director, Carlos V. Urmeneta in Atlántida
6 April 2015
Imagine standing on Noelle’s farm with her at your side. She starts her day before sunrise. She is ready to face another long, sweltering day working on her farm. Her crops depend on the water she brings them to survive; her family depends on her.
You look down at your feet you notice a thin layer of red dust on your shoes. As your gaze moves to the horizon you see a dry field of red dirt and Noelle’s clay covered house in the distance. And you see her most prized possession – rows of precisely ordered zucchini plants. Looking closer, you see a drip irrigation system that is delivering to her crop just the right amount of water.
Speaking in French, Noelle says she first saw drip irrigation at an iDE demonstration farm over 18 months ago. It was in that moment she decided to buy a system for herself. She started working with one of iDE’s local Farm Business Advisors who helped her to set up her drip irrigation system, plant and harvest her zucchini crop, and find a buyer in the local market. As one of the only farmers growing zucchini during the dry season, she is thrilled to receive the highest price possible for her crops. In just one harvest Noelle’s income went up more than $500, three times as much as she was making before using drip irrigation and growing such a valuable crop!
What is next for Noelle you ask?
Like every good business owner, Noelle has her mind on expansion. She wants more farmable land and to purchase a larger drip irrigation system. She is also looking to grow moringa, a nutritional supplement high in protein, vitamins A, B, and C, and calcium. There is a burgeoning demand for moringa so she can anticipate even more income in the future.
It is only because of donor support that iDE is able to have an office in Burkina Faso and assist farmers like Noelle in becoming successful entrepreneurs. To date, we have served 3,000 farmers in Burkina Faso alone, who have collectively earned over $180,000 in the last two years.
Continued donor support means more income for farmers in Burkina Faso and other iDE countries around the world. Every $1 donated to iDE equals $10 in additional income for farmers.
Thank you for investing in entrepreneurs.
28 March 2014
Meet Fabian Amili, one of our farming heroes in Zambia. By partnering with iDE, Fabian increased his own family’s income and worked his way out of poverty; today as a Farm Business Advisor he inspires everyone in his village to do the same.
Farm Business Advisors help their neighbors access seeds, fertilizer, water pumps, and other critical farming tools. Donations from RLG, the Rudy and Alice Ramsey Foundation, and many others have supported the training of more than 130 Farm Business Advisors in Zambia.
On Fabian’s farm you can see cabbage, peppers, tomatoes and other high value crops, which he sells on the local market. With the extra income, he has paid school fees for his children and bought medicine for his family.
Today Fabian is helping others by training them to use the same seeds and farming techniques he continues to use. With enormous passion he said, “if more farmers are doing well like me, we can grow together…” Fabian makes the world a better place.
Join us in training the next group of Farm Business Advisors! Donations to our agricultural work help lift families out of poverty not from a handout, but from their own hard work. With your donation of $110, we can bring another set of tools to an African farm.
30 September 2013
Michael Roberts from iDE Cambodia will be attending and presenting at Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS) 4th Annual Meeting, 2013.
The conference theme for this year is the Role of Private Sector and Producer Organizations in Rural Advisory Services and will be held September 24-26 in Berlin, Germany
Monday 23rd September 13:30 – 15:45 (CEST)
Swiss Forum on Rural Advisory Services (SFRAS) Side Event: Embedded services as modality for sustainable RAS
Case studies based on the experience of SFRAS members are presented that demonstrate the diversity of Rural Advisory Services provision in the form of embedded services as an approach for sustainability. Key themes addressed include:
- Embedding advisory services with input sales, processing and marketing
- Financial and ecological sustainability
- Comparative importance of embedded services in a pluralistic advisory services
Michael Roberts from iDE Cambodia will present the case study of the Farm Business Advisor model that embeds sales of quality agricultural inputs with professional training and support through ethical, relationship-based sales.
Peter Schmidt from Helvetas Swiss Interco-operation will moderate the session that will also feature case studies from CABI, Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture and Helvetas’ experiences in Bangladesh and Tanzania.
Tuesday 24th September 12:00 – 12:50 (CEST)
Parallel Session: Sustainability and cost-effectiveness in private sector and producer organizations
Michael Roberts will share lessons learnt from the Farm Business Advisor model developed by iDE in Cambodia and currently being rolled out by iDE programs in Ethiopia, Zambia, Mozambique and Nepal. Michael will be joined in the session by Stefan Kachelriess-Matthess from GIZ-Compaci and Souvanthong Namvong from the Department of Agriculture Extension and Cooperatives. The aim of this session is to identify sustainable and cost-effective approaches to providing rural advisory services, identify opportunities for transferability and garner lessons from existing public-private partnerships.
See photos on our Facebook page.
More details at, the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services.
6 September 2013
Horticultural production is the main activity during dry season in Burkina Faso (October to June), a country where agriculture is the main sector of the economy, it employs 80% of the population. In the context of water scarcity that faces the Sahelian region, drip irrigation technology is one of the best alternatives to develop horticulture and enhance rural population income. iDE Burkina is developing the market of drip irrigation technology with a social entrepreneurial model to increase smallholder farmers’ income. One main constraints in developing iDE’s activities is access to finance for the poorest farmers and particularly women small-scale farmers. Smallholder farmers interested in purchasing drip irrigation kits do not have the access to financial means to secure loans from local banks.
6 May 2013
Doña Linda Manueles is a farmer and entrepreneur from Marcala, Honduras, and winner of iDE’s Leaders in Their Fields Award. On her farm, Manueles uses an iDE treadle pump and drip irrigation kit to grow 14 different types of vegetables, which she sells for a profit. She has invested her extra income in other micro enterprises including raising geese and rabbits, and starting her own seed bank from her home. The attached German article from COOP (Switzerland) explains how iDE’s practices help local Honduran families, like Doña Linda’s, invest in their own communities. See English explanation of the article below.
“Droplets Against Hunger”
A simple irrigation system can help the coffee farmers in Central America through difficult times.
For many coffee makers in Central America, the “Meses flacos” will begin soon, the “thin months”, when the coffee harvest is over and the income from the past harvest has already been consumed yet the next cash is still 7 to 8 months away. In these days, all that is brought to the table are small amounts of food, and many families must borrow from others to get through these tough times. The income of the crops is often never enough for the whole year. The “Coop Fund for Sustainability” – created by the largest Swiss retail chain of supermarkets COOP – supports a project in which coffee producers in Fair-trade Cooperatives can have additional income opportunities with a water-saving irrigation system. By growing vegetables they can not only get additional income but spread it evenly over the whole year. The smallest irrigation kit consists of a sack as a reservoir and 4×5 meter of drip tape that brings the water drop by drop to the plants and can irrigate 20 square meters. With this kit coffee farmers can create gardens that produce vegetables and fruits for the local market. This means additional income for many families and less of the thin months, less “Meses Flacos.”
2 July 2012
Ms. Aida Ganaba, head of iDE’s Technology Center, talks about drip irrigation innovations at the first anniversary celebration.
On June 12, iDE’s newest country program celebrated an important milestone. iDE’s Burkina Faso team was joined by esteemed delegates from the Burkina Faso Ministry of Agriculture at a ceremony to observe the first harvest at the Center of Technology at Yamtenga. Speakers included several key iDE Burkina Faso staff, as well as Abdoulaye Compari from the Ministry of Agriculture, and Paul Bayili, who spoke on behalf of SDC on the importance of the partnership to advancing drip irrigation in the country. The event was attended by representatives of key partners including SDC, AFD, CIDA, GIZ, JICA, UNICEF, Swedish Corporation, FAO, WFP and IFAD. Various NGOs including Self-Help Africa, ACDI/VOCA, SNV, PlanetFinance, and HKI helped us to mark the occasion.
iDE Burkina Country Director Laurent Stravato discussed the organization’s efforts to implement low-cost drip irrigation technologies in a region with severely limited water resources, setting forth three issues which iDE has been working on in Burkina Faso: scaling up drip irrigation in the region, developing innovations to make it more affordable to Burkinabé farmers, and iDE Burkina’s distribution model and the advisory role of twelve farm business advisors currently working in four provinces of the country: Boulkiemdé, Kadiogo, Sanguié, and Yatenga.
Ms. Aida Ganaba, head of iDE’s Technology Center, explained in detail the work being done with drip irrigation kits of varying sizes as well various innovative prototypes being tested at the Center, such as a 1000-liter, ferro-cement reservoir, a 150 liter clay jar constructed by local masons, and a wood support system housing a 1,000 liter tank, created by an iDE farm business advisor.
iDE Burkina’s Center of Technology was created to serve as a facility where affordable water technologies could be developed, tested, and demonstrated to local farmers. The team faced many challenges in getting the center underway, including poor soil quality, the 400 meter distance from the nearest water source, abundance of plant disease, and a need for system uniformity. Addressing these problems, which are shared by many of the farmers iDE serves, has helped validate the effectiveness of drip irrigation in the local context.
iDE Burkina Faso’s business model builds upon the successful Farm Business Advisor program, originally piloted by iDE Cambodia. iDE Burkina employs twelve farm business advisors who act as liaisons between iDE and the small producer. Located throughout each of the 4 current project areas, they provide demonstration sites for technologies, after-sales assistance, and a focal point for the smallholder farmer customers. They also direct potential customers to distributors and dealers who specialize in iDE drip irrigation kit sales.
The Center also functions as a base for development of rural marketing strategies, including publicity panels, t-shirts, and informational documents. Other activities, such as engaging local theater to promote the use of drip irrigation technologies, are planned and implemented here. “Why is it that products such as soft drinks and telephones are so well advertised in rural markets, while products used to better the lives of smallholder farmers, such as drip irrigation, are not as well advertised?” asked Program Officer Sean McKinlay.
Perhaps most importantly, the Center of Technology is a functioning farm. Mr. Désiré Yerbanga, Business Development Manager, presented economic results of the Technology Center’s inaugural harvest. In a single 3-month production cycle, 378 kilograms of okra were harvested from a 200 square meter plot, netting 36,000 F CFA with one month in the harvest still remaining. A similar return for the two remaining cycles in the year is expected, for a total return of 108,000 F CFA on an initial investment of 50,000 F CFA. That same 3-month production cycle also yielded a 90 kilogram peanut harvest netting another 36,000 F CFA. In addition, iDE has found that substantial farm income can be earned from the sale of peanut leaves, thus shedding light on the need to look more closely at potential markets for agricultural by-products.
As iDE’s first francophone country program, Burkina Faso has achieved important initial success in reducing market prices for technology, reducing producer labor, and achieving substantial gains in time and revenue for smallholder farmers in its first year.
iDE Burkina Faso has experienced challenges in creating partnerships with micro-credit institutions and finding local partners to assist with product transformation. iDE Burkina Faso continues to adapt and grow accordingly, and as such the June 12 ceremony represents an important opening for drip irrigation in the country. The presence of the government, donors, and all major media outlets there presented an especially strong case to the public.
22 March 2012
I’m sitting here at Green Spaces Denver, campaign headquarters for our Water4Food 2012 day of service in honor of United Nations World Water Day, which this year is focused on food security. As our readers know, that’s iDE’s main focus.
There’s a lot of excitement and momentum from volunteers showing up to help spread the word in our local community. We’re going out and hitting the streets with postcards, stickers, tee shirts to share facts like these:
Did you know that it takes 635 gallons of water to produce one hamburger? Or that 397 gallons of water are needed to produce 35 oz of cane sugar? The truth is, without water there is no food. Water scarcity already affects every continent and more than 40 percent of the people on our planet. This year’s International World Water Day focuses on the critical relationship between water access and food security.
iDE, along with Card Gnome, Green Spaces, and our event sponsors, brings Water4Food 2012 to the Denver area to raise awareness for this issue and money to prevent famine for families in West Africa.
What can individuals do?
- follow a healthier, sustainable diet;
- consume less water-intensive products;
- reduce the scandalous food wastage: 30% of the food produced worldwide is never eaten and the water used to produce it is definitively lost!
- produce more food, of better quality, with less water.
There’s still time to volunteer! If you can spend a couple of hours taking stickers and information sheets to Denver area businesses, sign up at volunteer.water4food.com. All volunteers are invited to join us at the Water4Food 2012 party tonight at 5:30pm at Green Spaces.
Purchase a Water4Food 2012 greeting card plan at Card Gnome, and 50% of the proceeds will provide families in the Sahel region of West Africa with the tools and knowledge needed to create and sustain a sustainable income from small plot farming, enabling them to increase food security and lift themselves out of poverty.
Your plan allows you to send 25 cards throughout one year. You choose the perfect card from Card Gnome’s selection of thousands of cards for all occasions; write your personal message and Card Gnome mails it for you. You can even schedule cards for delivery a year in advance.
With the purchase of a card plan, you gain a ticket with a guest to the party at Green Spaces tonight. Just show up and we’ll have your name on a list along with others.
If you would like to donate directly to iDE, please click here.
There are many ways to get involved in this issue, no matter where you are!
Visit the U.N.’s World Water Day site (www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/) to find World Water Day events all over the world, downloadable informational materials and more.
Twitter: Join the conversation using #Water4Food and #WorldWaterDay and give a shout to @CardGnome and @ideorg or any of the other great sponsors listed below.
Facebook: We love sharing water4food information and you can visit our pages to access videos, pictures, blog posts and other items we’ve been sharing recently:
Green Spaces greenspaceshome.com
Silver Bullet Water Treatment, LLC silverbulletcorp.com
Colorado Water 2012 water2012.org
Colorado Public Television 12 cpt12.org
Elephant Energy elephantenergy.org
Inspire Commerce inspirecommerce.com
Edge of Seven edgeofseven.org
Ellen Bruss Design ebd.com
Conscious Coffees consciouscoffees.com
Sticker Giant stickergiant.com
Rage Unlimited rageunlimited.com
Runa Tea Company runa.org
I’m incredibly inspired by all of these volunteers who are taking time out of their busy days to help us tackle this issue. Thank you to our sponsors, partners staff, volunteers, and news media who are working hard to spread the word on this very important day.
14 July 2011
“Design is creative problem solving. Art is creative problem solving.”
So says iDE founder Paul Polak in a new interview with Colorado Public Radio’s Ryan Warner. Paul gives the reporter a guided tour of the just-opened Design for the Other 90% exhibit–along with a demonstration of a treadle pump in action!–while covering such topics as how iDE came about, the role of design in improving livelihoods in developing countries, why we don’t give products away, and what a collection of affordable technologies is doing in an art gallery.
You can stream the full interview here.
15 June 2011
Drip Irrigation in Front of Swiss Parliament
by Urs Heierli
SDC – the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and is using the occasion to launch an initiative to educate the public about its work. As the Global Water Initiatives Division of SDC has launched a major cooperation program with iDE, SDC has included information about more efficient irrigation systems targeted to reach the poor. As part of a rotating exhibition in major Swiss cities, an iDE Family Nutrition Kit was shown as a model and attracted quite some interest. In late May, the exhibition was in Berne on the Federal Plaza, just in front of the Swiss Parliament. The Swiss parliament has recently increased the development aid budget from 0.4 to 0.5% of GDP and a major focus of the increased resources will be targeted to water projects. There is an increasing awareness that global water scarcity will severely affect all societies if “business as usual” policies are pursued. iDE has a lot to offer in this domain: affordable drip and sprinkler irrigation systems and other productive water technologies for small farmers provide really interesting solutions.
iDE’s SDC-supported program “Scaling up productive water technologies” will develop dissemination programs in several regions, including Central America (Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and later Mexico), West Africa (Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Chad) and Asia (Kirgizstan, Vietnam). Together with the Gates Foundation, It also supports the global dissemination of productive water technologies.
In addition, iDE is launching a “Fair Trade Water project” funded by the Sustainability initiative of the Swiss retail chain COOP aimed at increasing the water efficiency of Fair Trade Cooperatives in Central America. COOP is the second largest retail chain in Switzerland and was selected as the world’s most sustainable retail chain, especially for the chain’s attention to the farmers who supply them. This project will be operating in Central America and will deliver affordable irrigation to small farmers belonging to Fair Trade cooperatives, with a special focus on diversification.