Notes to broadcasters on small-scale irrigation

    | January 10, 2011

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    Carefully managed small-scale irrigation can substantially improve farmers’ yields. As the farmers in Malawi found, it can make a huge difference to a community.  As well as increasing yields and improving food security, the farmers learned to work together, and their self-confidence increased.

    For technical information on small-scale irrigation, refer to:, and

    Farm Radio Weekly has published news stories on community irrigation initiatives in the past. Here are some you can refer to:

    Southern Africa: Better management of water in agriculture needed (Issue 59, March 2009)

    Senegal: Drip irrigation boosts dry season production (Issue 30, July 2008)

    Sudan: Treadle pumps boost dry-season farming (Issue 11, February 2008)

    Farm Radio International has published a number of scripts on water harvesting and irrigation techniques for drought-prone areas. Some are listed below. For a full list of scripts on water management, go to:

    Rainwater From Large Rock Surfaces Can Be Used To Irrigate Crops: A New Technology From Kibaale District, Uganda. Package 83, Script 9, March 2008

    Creative farmers modify borehole to irrigate fruit trees in the dry season. Package 86, Script 3
    December 2008.

    Supply Water Directly to Plant Roots with Pitcher and Drip Irrigation. Package 71, Script 10, June 2004.

    You may wish to develop a program that looks at appropriate irrigation options for farmers, especially if you broadcast to areas where water is scarce. Try to find farmers or farmers’ groups with successful irrigation activities. Present a range of examples − from simple ideas like using watering cans to conserve water, to larger-scale initiatives like the river diversion scheme in this week’s story. Research the advantages and disadvantages of each, and explain that different irrigation techniques suit different situations.

    Consider what  information farmers need when planning to irrigate their farms. For example, is a watering can all that is needed? Do farmers have the financial resources to invest in drip irrigation? Can water be pumped from a stream? How? Is it feasible to invest in rainwater harvesting? You might like to interview irrigation specialists who can outline some of the many technical factors to consider on-air.