Although irrigation in Africa has the potential to boost agricultural productivities by at least 50 percent, food production on the continent is almost entirely rainfed. Africa has 65% of the world’s uncultivated arable land but produces only 15% of global agricultural output. Smallholder farms produce on average 50% less output per acre than their global counterparts. The area equipped for irrigation, currently slightly more than 13 million hectares, makes up just 6 percent of the total cultivated area. There is a great irrigation potential in Africa that need to be unlocked by use of Smart solution like use of solar powered irrigation. Energy is crucial for achieving almost all of the Sustainable Development Goals, from its role in the eradication of poverty through advancements in health, education, water supply and industrialization, to combating climate change.
Promoting the use of solar powered irrigation to achieve sustainable irrigation was the Key message that transpired during the Master Class on Solar Powered Irrigation held on 7th September 2018 at the SNV-grounds Nairobi. This was part of a series of workshops under the National Irrigation Acceleration platform (NIAP) hosted by JKUAT’s Water Research and Resource Center (WARREC) in collaboration with SNV-Netherlands in the implementation Smart Water for Agriculture (SWA) project. NIAP provides a “Platform” for knowledge sharing, learning, interaction and building of synergies to advance actions that promote irrigation best practices in Kenya.
Speaking during the event, Prof. Bancy Mati Director Water Research and resource Center (WARREC) advocated for the use of solar power irrigation to achieve sustainable irrigation and increase food security. She cited the use of solar technology as being inexhaustible source of clean energy found virtually everywhere, abundant, use friendly with low cost after installations. Prof. Mati called on policy makers to consider creating enabling environment to promoting solar powered irrigation in the county. This sentiments were also echoed by solar pump technology service providers including sun culture, Kickstart, Future Pump among others.
The forum brought together Tech companies, policy makers, private sector, financiers of irrigation, service providers, think tanks and development partners with a bearing on the irrigation sector.