Solar-powered drip irrigation systems significantly increased vegetable production in villages in the western African nation of Benin, improving nutrition and boosting household incomes, according to a new study. The study, led by a researcher at Stanford University’s Program on Food Security and the Environment, installed solar-powered drip irrigation systems in two villages in Benin and compared the impact with two nearby villages that did not have drip irrigation systems.
The study found that, after a year, farmers with the solar irrigation systems saw vegetable production increase by 500 to 750 grams per person per day — three to five times greater than the villages that did not have irrigation systems.
The significantly increased yield meant that farmers could feed their families and sell up to 80 percent of their harvest at local markets, sharply increasing household income, according to the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The researchers noted that only 4 percent of cropland in sub-Saharan Africa is irrigated and that the spread of solar-powered drip irrigation technology “could be an important source of poverty alleviation and food security in the marginal environments common to sub-Saharan Africa.”
Article appearing courtesy of Yale Environment 360
[photo credit: Simon Howden]