Smallholder Irrigation Development
Image: Smallholder vegetable farmer, Northern Ghana
Smallholder farmers are critical to food security and economic development across sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, but often lack reliable and cost-effective access to irrigation to buffer crops against drought. Our research uses a combination of household surveys, earth observation data, and crop-water models to improve understanding about the current technical, institutional and socio-economic barriers to irrigation water access, and assess impacts of varying typologies of water access on smallholder agricultural productivity and livelihoods. We use these analyses to develop actionable evidence for governments and policymakers about how to expand access to irrigation in a way that is cost-effective, sustainable, and equitable for smallholder farmers. Presently, our work in this area is focused on two specific topics: (i) comparative assessment of the performance of formal government and informal farmer-led irrigation developments in sub-Saharan Africa, and (ii) evaluation of opportunities to reduce efficiency gaps and support scalable delivery of renewable energy technologies in private groundwater pump irrigation systems in South Asia.
Foster, T. & Brozovic, N. (2018). Simulating crop-water production functions using crop growth models to support water policy assessments. Ecological Economics, 152, 9-21.