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Drip Irrigation: Grow more vegetables with less water

Drip irrigation is a method of watering plants with single drops of water at a time. The set up consists of tapes with very small outlets that let out water one drop at a time wetting the soil around the plants roots. The technology was developed in the USA and Israel for growing crops in dry climates where water is limited.
The technology is efficient in use of water - no water is wasted as runoff or lost by moving down through the soil too quickly for the roots to absorb it. The technology has been further simplified and requires low water pressure to operate. The tapes are very flexible and can be modified to suit different lengths of rows or plot sizes.

ALIN’s involvement in drip Irrigation started with the publication of technical information on drip irrigation in its magazine, Baobab that was read by thousands of network members in Africa in early 1998. Members in Kenya showed keen interest in learning about the technology. Thus, working closely with the KARI drip irrigation team and Chapin watermatics a US based company; ALIN organized a workshop for 30 participants to share experiences between farmers, researchers, Ministry of Agriculture and NGO staff.

Following the workshop, drip irrigation gained momentum in the region. Many organizations started pilot activities with farmers. However, as the technology spread, there was a dire need expressed by extension staffs to avail appropriate information about installation and management of drip irrigation technology.

DRIP IRRIGATION Extension Manual
Targeting extension workers and farming community, the Drip Irrigation Extension Manual is written in simple language and well illustrated. The manual explains all about the technology; how to install a drip irrigation system and the various types of drip irrigation kits available. The book further explains how to conduct training on the technology and the various approaches used, giving case studies of successful initiatives by various non-governmental organizations such as the Intermediate Technology Development Group-Eastern Africa and the Semi-Arid and Rural Development Programme (SARDEP)

The manual also gives sources of the drip irrigation kits in Kenya, organizations involved in drip irrigation and also the market prices for the kits.

To develop the manual, ALIN held a three-day drip irrigation stakeholders' workshop in Kitui, Kenya in November 2001. This workshop brought together 32 participants drawn from 14 different organisations that included non-governmental organisations (NGOs), government departments, community-based organisations (CBOs), bilateral agencies, research organisations, and individual farmers among others. Thirty percent of the participants were women.

The workshop created a forum through which key players in the field of irrigation in arid areas could share and document experiences in drip irrigation to compile draft extension materials. The simplest drip system in use by many farmers in home gardens to produce vegetables is the 'bucket kit' that is made up of the bucket, a filter, connectors and 30 metres of drip tape.

In consultation with other stakeholders, ALIN continues to give demonstrations and appropriate technical information on drip irrigation in the region. ALIN has undertaken over fifty demonstrations and specialised trainings for farmers and extension staff in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia.