Affordable drip irrigation plus a comprehensive set of tools
More than one billion people live in areas where water is scarce, and a majority of these people need to grow food for their livelihoods. Drip irrigation is a way to stretch those water resources. Using a system of small plastic pipes, water is slowly dripped only on the soil nearest the plant’s roots.
So why haven’t more small farms embraced drip technology? Because it’s not an off-the-shelf solution. You can’t just hand out plastic pipes. Systems must be installed properly. Pipes get clogged and need to be maintained regularly. And it’s not easy for farmers to break with traditions that go back farther than anyone can remember.
What if one million farmers could grow more food with less water?
iDE is convening the Drip+ Alliance to bring the power of drip irrigation to bear—to change farmers’ lives and the world.
It’s a multi-faceted problem that deserves a comprehensive set of tools.
A right-sized water access solution Affordable water-lifting technologies, including low-cost renewables, are essential if farmers are to harness their water resources effectively.
- Adapted drip systems. Small-scale farmers can’t afford commercial-sized systems. They need products that are stripped to the essentials, low-cost, low-pressure, functional in poor water quality conditions, and adapted to a range of crops.
- Appropriate inputs. In order to achieve optimal results and maximize water-efficiency, farmers need access to quality seed, soil nutrients, and pest and disease control.
- Technical support. Drip irrigation requires a major shift in crop management and mindset, as well as the ability to operate and maintain the technology. Farmers need effective extension support and peer-to-peer connections, as well as reference materials in their own languages—and adapted for those who cannot read.
- Financing. With higher yields, Drip+ systems often pay for themselves in less than a year. But even still, many farmers lack the money to make the initial investment. Creative financing solutions are essential.
- Output markets. When small-scale farmers can see a strategy to use local market channels to sell their harvest, they will invest their own scarce resources into increasing production to meet demand.
Help us solve the drip equation.
We’re excited about the pockets of progress we’ve already seen, but we’re also fully aware of the challenges to widespread adoption. We are inspired by the 500 million small-scale farmers that could dramatically increase their production. We are forming the Drip+ Alliance to encourage new thinking and collaboration on ways to break through the critical bottlenecks that have prevented drip technology from achieving its potential.
We’re bringing together industry leaders, investors, and social-mission organizations to ensure farmers have access to everything they need to be successful with drip technology.
- Industry: We welcome manufacturers, distributors, and services providers with a common interest in reaching small-scale producers with Drip+ solutions.
- Research: Helping understand the barriers to adoption and the value proposition of Drip+ technology is an ongoing need that is well-suited to academic institutions, research firms, and non-profit technology centers.
- Investor: Funds are needed for market development, research projects, and seed capital for new ventures and market pioneers.
- Social enterprise: We welcome those with a commitment to scaling water-smart solutions for improving incomes and livelihoods.