Small-scale farmers turn to irrigation to boost yields, income

Davis & Shirtliff Group  Technical Director Eng Philip Holi. [Nanjinia Wamuswa, Standard]

Small-scale farmers are increasingly embracing irrigation technologies to enhance yields and revenues.

According to Davis & Shirtliff, a leading provider of irrigation technology and water solutions, rain-fed agriculture is no longer tenable due to changing weather patterns.

The firm’s technical director Eng Philip Holi said they have noted an increase in the adoption of affordable and efficient irrigation technologies, such as drip irrigation among smallholder farmers in the country.

He attributes this shift to a growing awareness among farmers of the advantages of irrigation in improving crop yields and ensuring food security.

“Both governments and non-governmental organisations have played a pivotal role in promoting irrigation through subsidies, training, and other support mechanisms, contributing to this positive trend,” he said recently at an event to mark World Food Day in Nairobi. 

The day is celebrated every year worldwide on October 16 to commemorate the date of the founding of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in 1945. 

Mr Holi stressed the importance of increased investment in water harvesting, storage, and distribution infrastructure to ensure a reliable water supply for agricultural activities.

He also highlighted practices like conservation agriculture, agroforestry, and the use of drought-tolerant crop varieties as significant contributors to achieving food security.

“Enhancing the capacity of farmers through training and providing access to resources is crucial to equipping them with modern agricultural and irrigation techniques,” said Mr Holi.

Despite these positive developments, Mr Holi cited limited access to water, the cost of irrigation infrastructure, and a lack of knowledge about modern irrigation practices as among the challenges facing many farmers, especially smallholder farmers.

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