Modernizing irrigation for smallholder farmers in Pakistan to maximize crop growth while cutting costs
FIRST YEAR OF INVESTMENT
In Pakistan, 120 million people directly depend on agriculture to survive. Yet modern irrigation technologies cater to farmers with large fields, leaving smallholder farmers to rely on flood irrigation – an inefficient use of water resources that does not maximize crop yields – or on expensive and polluting diesel pumps. The share of water available for agriculture is declining fast, and smallholder farmers are the first to be affected. Lack of access to water forces these farmers off their land in search of alternate sources of income and leads to increased rural-urban migration.
Micro Drip’s affordable drip irrigation systems deliver water directly to the root of the plant – maximizing plant growth, ensuring major input cost and water savings, and improving farm yields. Micro Drip is the result of collaboration between Acumen, Thardeep Rural Development Programme and Unilever Pakistan. Acumen played a critical role in transferring the irrigation technology from IDEI-India and Global Easy Water Products (GEWP), an Acumen investee in India. Micro Drop has since expanded into Punjab, where it is partnering with National Rural Support Programme, a rural development non-profit, to market and sell the systems to smallholder farmers.
Micro Drip’s irrigation systems reduce the amount of water needed to cultivate an acre of land by 50 percent, and have been shown to improve yields by more than 40 percent and offer input cost savings of about 30 percent. They also allow for year-round farming, which means that farmers don’t have to uproot families and migrate to cities during the dry season. The overall result: reduced dependence on flood irrigation and the opportunity for farmers to earn steadier incomes. The company has reached more than 4,000 rural households since mid-2009 and has the potential to reach 20,000 farmers in the region.