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Julia Akhabere manages the irrigation systems at the Starehe Girls Centre in Nairobi. Julia is now applying to Harvard, Cornell and UC Davis to enroll in a master’s program for environmental sustainability.


Because the professional irrigation industry is disconnected from the development community, certain NGOs have been providing second best agricultural and irrigation equipment for LDCs that would not see the light of day in the developed world. In addition, NGOs do not provide the level of technical support and maintenance mechanisms for farmers that are provided in the developed world. In other words, with few exceptions, the irrigation dealer or distributor is absent.


Two examples of second-best drip irrigation products that are widely distributed in many African countries and sub-Asia countries describe the advantages of their systems on their websites and illustrate the disconnect between the professional irrigation industry and the development community. The first said, “Our designers have lowered the cost of drip systems by replacing emitters with holes and micro tubes.” The second company said, “Our company has created the best drip irrigation system for small-plot farmers — affordable, high quality, and easy to use without the need for expensive and complex emitters, eliminating the top cause for clogging.”


However, in recent years there has been significant growth of the distributor agent in East Africa. An Israeli company, Amiran, has established itself in seven countries and operates in 30 African countries selling and supporting irrigation and greenhouse systems, using tools and methods that those of us working in the irrigation industry in the developed world would recognize in a positive light.


This then becomes the opportunity and challenge for the professional irrigation industry. There are 500 million smallholder farms in the LDCs that need to achieve similar outcomes, but in order to do so, the development community and our irrigation industry need to bridge the gap separating us.


Michael Davidson has been engaged in global water management, specializing in climate-smart agriculture as a farmer, teacher, researcher, scholar, consultant, business owner and member of


key NGOs since 1975. Davidson was the water, irrigation and farm manager for Kibbutz Gezer, Israel, for approximately 20 years. He is currently a principal/partner at Eagle Spec Sales Group.


irrigationtoday.org 33


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