twitter RSS Feed linkedin acp contact

Irrigating Africa optimally

Progressive farmers have begun to adopt modern techniques such as precision irrigation that do not rely on rain. In an exclusive interview with Tulana Nayak from African Farming, Elad Levi, vice president and head of Middle East & Africa, Netafim, speaks about their precision irrigation solutions that ensure longevity of crops in the face of climate change

Elad Levi 24 MarchElad Levi, vice president and head of Middle East & Africa, Netafim. (Image source: Netafim)

 Progressive farmers have begun to adopt modern techniques such as precision irrigation that do not rely on rain. Elad Levi, vice president and head of Middle East & Africa, Netafim, speaks with Tulana Nayak from African Farming about their precision irrigation solutions that ensure longevity of crops in the face of climate change.Progressive farmers have begun to adopt modern techniques such as precision irrigation that do not rely on rain. Elad Levi, vice president and head of Middle East & Africa, Netafim, speaks with Tulana Nayak from African Farming about their precision irrigation solutions that ensure longevity of crops in the face of climate change.What are the economic and environmental benefits of drip irrigation?

Elad Levi: Drip Irrigation, which was pioneered by Netafim in Israel’s desert more than 50 years ago, is the most efficient water and nutrient delivery system for growing crops. It delivers water and nutrients directly to the plant’s root zone, in the right amounts and at the right time, to grow optimally. It contributes towards increased agricultural productivity which will reduce production costs while using the same or less inputs. For example, drip irrigation benefits both farmers and crops in several ways. Farmers who use it have a higher ROI than other irrigation methods, higher consistent quality yields, water savings, and 100% land utilisation as the drip method irrigates uniformly in any topography and soil type. It also works on low water pressure, resulting in energy savings, uses fertilisers more efficiently and is not dependent on the weather, providing greater stability and lower risks for farmers.

It is also better for crops as it distributes a balanced and consistent supply of water, as well as frequent nutrients in small doses, which are needed for growth. This means that the crops receive doses of water and nutrients tailored to the specific plant’s needs so that there is no saturation and good soil aeration. By preventing foliage from getting wet, the system also protects against fungal diseases. One major long-term benefit of drip is its ability to drive climate resiliency, bringing stability to the farming community while producing sustained harvests to ensure food security. This is because drip enables farmers around the world to meet the growing demand for food without using up our limited resources, and helps us preserve our planet for future generations.

Climate-smart irrigation methods such as drip reduce greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture production systems when compared to other traditional irrigation methods, minimising negative effects such as soil erosion, soil crusting, salinisation, and agricultural runoff. 

Why is precision irrigation important for farmers in the face of climate change?

Precision irrigation, a unique sustainable agricultural approach which includes drip irrigation, is vital because it enables farmers to grow on any topography, field shape, or size and in any climate. It turns land, unfit for growing with traditional irrigation, into arable farmland and gives plants optimal growing conditions, which drives higher outputs and enables multiple crop-cycles per year. It allows farmers to increase their water usage efficiency by more than 50%, boosts yield production and precision and allows better use of recycled water.

This has become more important in recent years due to climate change, which has introduced several issues concerning water availability in Africa and other parts of the world. Farming depends largely on rainfall, open wells, rivers, and surface irrigation methods but this is becoming more challenging due to climate change and drought. Climate change will likely reduce crop yields in Africa, and has been visible and experienced in recent years due to drought and increased temperatures which affects crop growing phenology and adds environmental stresses on crops.

To mitigate growing water stress, African countries are striving to switch to irrigated agriculture. Here, when the water is precious, hi-efficient precision irrigation farming plays a big role. Climate change imposes shifts in the farming industry with more farmers around the world embracing the necessity of utilising environmentally friendly agricultural practices, such as drip irrigation, as a solution to the rising temperatures and less available water.  

How is Netafim helping farmers in Africa? Please share some success stories.

Netafim is leading water and irrigation opportunities in Africa by reaching individual growers, smallholders, corporate farms, communities, NGOs and federal government & irrigation ministries. It provides advanced agriculture solutions including feasibility survey, irrigation designs, water delivery infrastructure, infield smart irrigation solutions to all sectors of growers and crops, as well as crop & project planning consulting and advisory.

One success story of which we are proud was with a community in Niger, which like much of the globe, is experiencing the effects of climate change – but to an extreme. With its temperature rising 1.5 times faster than the global median and averaging 45 degrees Celsius, farmers across Niger struggle to grow food in scorched, sandy soil, resulting in an unprecedented high rate of chronic malnutrition among young children.

The Netafim team, along with the IFC (International Finance Corporation), was able to set the wheels in motion for fundamental and widespread change via the Niger Irrigation Project, a pilot programme intended to strengthen the country’s resilience to climate changes through the sustainable development of drip irrigation. As part of the pilot, Netafim installed family-size drip irrigation systems, some of which were powered entirely by solar energy pumps that drip water and nutrients to the base of the plant, significantly reducing water consumption and improving the quality of the crops.

Netafim trained more than 900 hundred farmers in the use of the technology. This resulted in greater knowledge, increased yields, higher income and more control. Netafim has also worked extensively in 12 countries across sub-Saharan Africa in countries such as Senegal, Ethiopia, Mali Kenya and South Africa.   

Did the pandemic change anything in the irrigation sector?

The Covid-19 pandemic made the world understand the importance of food security and farming. Restrictions on imports, transport and other logistical issues forced more countries to produce more of their own food. As a result, agricultural production is getting greater attention from governments, corporate farms and medium to smallholder farms. As the demand and cost of agricultural produce increased, farms were able to invest more in technology leading to many more farms adopting irrigation technologies. 

Please share and elaborate on the new and upcoming irrigation solutions from Netafim.

Meeting the food needs of the growing population and to improve rural livelihoods with minimum environmental disturbance, Netafim is developing a solar drip irrigation solution. The product is yet to launch officially but is a concrete example of the dedication that Netafim has towards developing sustainable technologies.

Our acquisition last year of Gakon, a turnkey greenhouse projects provider, broadens our controlled environment offering, enabling much larger scale projects of this nature for any type of crop to be grown anywhere in the world. Our aim is to be able to provide the necessary technology to ensure sustainable agriculture to meet the interest in locally grown fresh produce amid increasing concern over food security due to increasing populations. On a practical level, this means that Netafim will provide growers with a comprehensive offering of the best greenhouse technologies, structures, irrigation, fertigation, and crop growing expertise as well as other agriculture-related services to enable farmers to maximise productivity and efficiency in all climate conditions.

As part of our mission to ensure a sustainable food future, we have also started a new initiative that makes precision irrigation technologies more accessible to people who have never used them before, such as smallholders. We are doing this by providing a DIY-style instruction manual, which uses an easy-to-understand layout of images and videos which shows a user how to install and use our systems. We believe that more farmers using precision or drip irrigation means that more crops will be grown in a sustainable manner and help smallholders to grow more with less.

Lastly, we’re also progressing our digital farming capabilities, making it easier to automate and optimise farming decisions centered on irrigation, empowering them to act on data-driven insights. Despite the current challenges regarding food security, we believe that through the use of precision irrigation, we can become less dependent on weather and social conditions to ensure enough food is grown sustainably.


LATEST NEWS IN Water & Irrigation

Rivulis opens new factory in Manzares

Rivulis opens new factory in Manzares

Rivulis, a global leader in micro irrigation solutions, has announced the opening of its new state-of-the-art factory in Manzanares, Spain

Irrigating Africa optimally

Irrigating Africa optimally

Progressive farmers have begun to adopt modern techniques such as precision irrigation that do not rely on rain. In an exclusive interview with Tulana Nayak from African Farming, Elad Levi,...

FAO backs management of empty pesticide packaging in West Africa

FAO backs management of empty pesticide …

The GCP/INT/147/GEF Project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and coordinated by FAO, has targeted Senegal’s Missirah to manage existing packaging and put in place a mechanism for sustainable...

Critical to pair tree-planting drives with water-wise technologies: Dake Rechsand

Critical to pair tree-planting drives wi…

In the backdrop of increasing tree-planting drives across the MENA region, Dake Rechsand, a company that specialises in sustainable solutions for water conservation and desert farming, has stressed the need...

Boosting commercialisation of water stress management solutions for field crops

Boosting commercialisation of water stre…

Agri-biotech company Elicit Plant closed its financing round to accelerate the development of its water stress management solution in agriculture, with support from the European Circular Bioeconomy Fund (ECBF)

Rivulis offers free crop monitoring and irrigation detection service to its customer growers

Rivulis offers free crop monitoring and …

Rivulis, a global innovator micro-irrigation solutions innovator, has provided a free service to its customer growers for monitoring crops and detecting irrigation issues with satellite imagery

Prev Next

OTHER RELATED ARTICLES - Water & Irrigation

Rivulis offers free crop monitoring and irrigation detection service to its customer growers

Rivulis offers free crop monitoring and …

Rivulis, a global innovator micro-irrigation solutions innovator, has provided a free service to its customer growers for monitoring crops and detecting irrigation issues with satellite imagery

An agricultural flocculant improves water management in drip irrigation

An agricultural flocculant improves wate…

As natural resource, water is increasingly becoming more precious, especially in agriculture. Improving water usage efficiency in irrigated systems is an important objective

Water project boosts yields as farmers grapple with climate extremes in Mozambique

Water project boosts yields as farmers g…

The African Development Bank (AfDB)- funded water project in Mozambique has provided irrigation kits, constructed boreholes, small dams and water troughs that increased access to water for people and cattle...

Kirloskar Brothers build on African business

Kirloskar Brothers build on African busi…

By strengthening the local workforce in Africa, Kirloskar Brothers Limited (KBL) have created a niche for themselves in the continent, says Shipra Tripathi, head of Corporate Global Marketing and Communications...

Saturas and Kerlink collaborate for automated irrigation control system

Saturas and Kerlink collaborate for auto…

Saturas Ltd, Israeli startup and the developer of a breakthrough stem-water measurement system for smart farming, has announced that the IoT specialist Kerlink will provide Saturas with LoRa-based sensors for...

World Bank finances water and irrigation infrastructure of Angola

World Bank finances water and irrigation…

The World Bank announced that it will invest US$1bn to support agricultural projects in Angola linked to water resources and irrigation

IBM’s remote water management tool for farmers

IBM’s remote water management tool for f…

Water research scientists at IBM Research - Africa have designed a water management solution for farmers who are often away from their farms

Water, our lifeblood

Water, our lifeblood

By Ivy Latour, Marketing & Communications Director, Asia Industrial, Veolia Water Technologies A most dynamic industry, the food and beverage (F&B) market has seen dozens of food trends come and go,...

Call for ideas to tackle irrigation water loss

Call for ideas to tackle irrigation wate…

AB Sugar, in partnership with WaterAid and the Centre for Industrial Sustainability at the University of Cambridge, has launched a first-of-its-kind Innovate Irrigation Challenge, seeking to generate new ideas to...

Rotating debris out of irrigation water

Rotating debris out of irrigation water

As with many other farmers, Bob Wietharn had a real problem. He irrigated from a river so shallow that he could usually wade across it, but the nozzles of his...

EU supports water development projects in Sudan

EU supports water development projects i…

Jean-Michel DUMOND, head of the European Union (EU) delegation to Sudan, has confirmed the EU’s commitment to support better access to drinking water for the Sudanese population

KickStart pump to boost Africa's irrigation capacity

KickStart pump to boost Africa's irrigat…

How can Africa break out of its dependence upon subsistence farming?

Prev Next