Analysis: FRANCIS CHEWE
IRRIGATION and other forms of agricultural water management are critical in building resilience to increased climate variability.
Southern African regions are endowed with abundant water resources, yet less than three percent of arable land in the region benefits from some form of water management.
With the regions becoming highly vulnerable to climate change and farmers increasingly dealing with climate variability and weather risks, Netafim, an Israeli manufacturer of irrigation equipment, has plans to ensure that drip irrigation is an essential element for a sustainable future.
Dry spells and significant climate events such as devastating droughts and floods are hitting smallholder farmers more frequently, raising an urgent need to adapt irrigation techniques.
To help farmers counter this, Netafim has revolutionised agriculture by pioneering micro-irrigation technology, allowing large-scale delivery of precisely controlled amounts of water and fertiliser directly to plant roots.
The company produces drippers, dripperlines, sprinklers and micro-emitters, and manufactures and distributes crop management technologies, monitoring and control systems, dosing and crop management systems.
According to the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organisation of (FAO), smallholder farmers in the region are increasingly using small-scale irrigation to achieve more reliable, profitable and sustainable production.
Since small-scale irrigation is very promising in Africa as it promotes rural food security, poverty alleviation and adaptation to climate change, Netafim has resolved to ensure that its products are cost-effective and easily deployed.
Netafim’s drip irrigation products eliminate water wastage and increase crop yields.
At the same time, the range of technologies and practices leverages its cutting-edge irrigation technology, in-house agronomic and technical expertise and global presence to provide comprehensive solutions that increase crop yields and preserve scarce water resources.
These solutions include irrigation for both agriculture and landscaping, including drippers, precision sprinklers, micro-sprinklers, computerised controllers, and advanced filtration systems.
While at national level, adaptation involves a combination of policy adjustments and investments in infrastructure, much of on-farm adaptation is autonomous and relies on smallholder farmers.
South and Central Africa is characterised by a large variety of agro-ecologies and diverse access modalities to natural resources. These highlight the need to better understand and customise small-scale irrigation schemes to ensure resilience to increasing climate hazard.
To champion this, Netafim Zambia aims to drive mass adoption of innovative, simple and reliable drip irrigation solutions through providing customers with the best agronomic and technical support.
Netafim’s willingness to share this knowledge through Netafim Irrigation University courses is helping growers worldwide leverage the over 30 years of agronomic experience to raise yields and efficiency.
From the original Netafim team of farmers, agronomists and engineers who developed drip irrigation to solve their own pressing cultivation problems, Netafim has grown to a transnational corporation, with over 30 billion emitters in operation.
Netafim’s products and services now extend beyond the initial specialised applications that made the company the world leader in micro-irrigation.
It now includes large and small turnkey irrigation and greenhouse projects, including unique climate controllers for optimum growing efficiency.
Through intensive investment in research and development, Netafim produces waste water management innovative solutions for agricultural and landscaping irrigation with treated effluents and automated crop management and monitoring systems.
Through project management, design, installation and operation of agricultural projects, Netafim is helping champion the campaign of climate change in the agriculture sector through smart irrigation.
Netafim Zambia technical advisor Nambwale Kalunga recently said drip irrigation is a tool for sustainable production using minimum resources.
Through partnerships with Irritech Zambia, Amiran Zambia, International Development Enterprises (IDE) and Government, Mr Kalunga said the plan is to revolutionise irrigation globally for a sustainable future.
He said the strategic goal is to provide simple and affordable technology to enable mass adoption of smart irrigation.
As a multinational corporation, Netafim also works with world finance organisations and NGOs to assist growers in exploring different funding options for irrigation projects.
Mr Kalunga said as an environmentally responsible corporation, Netafim is committed to the development of methods and tools that are used to preserve water, which is one of the world’s most precious resources.
He said this is because Netafim promotes agricultural methods and technology that increase global food production and bring relief to many less-privileged populations and regulating climate change.
The author is a Zambia Daily Mail sub-editor.
Analysis: FRANCIS CHEWE