Newsflash January 2018

Vote for Roads for Water!  – Resilience Award 2017

By controlling runoff speed, mitigating destructive flood runoff and influencing sedimentation processes, roads are used to manage water catchments. In floodplains, roads play a role in flood protection and increasing shallow groundwater tables. Both increase the resilience of rural communities that live in flood-prone areas. Because of its efforts to create resilience dividends with road water management, MetaMeta is now a nominated finalist for the Zilient 2017 Resilience Award. Please vote on our project here (before midnight January 16th) and help us put road water management on the map!



Building livelihoods with spate-irrigated Seredo sorghum and Calotropis

Earlier, we reported on the research by ICRAF to test various soil moisture conservation measures to optimise the yields of Seredo sorghum under spate irrigation. As part of the IFAD & European Commission-funded “Africa to Asia: testing adaptation in flood-based resource management” project, a feedback event was organised in November to share the research results to the local communities of Kenya’s Kajiado County.

This information event was attended by about 100 persons, representing the Kamukuru group ranch; Jomo Kenyatta and Egerton universities; Kenya Meteorological Department; two private companies; and the Samburu group ranch NGO. To this audience, the research design and set-up were shared, focusing on the practical application of the soil moisture conservation measures (conventional farming practices, mulching, ridges and combined use of ridges and mulch) and their effects on moisture retention. Weather, soil and water flow sensors have been used as part of the study to closely monitor their relationship with plant growth.

In addition, the promising livelihood benefits of Calotropis procera – the hidden cotton plant – were shared with the community. As a follow-up to this event, the Kenyan Ministry of Water & Irrigation, a leading partner within the FBLN Kenya chapter, has promised to take a number of community members for a tour to Kibwezi in Makueni County, to learn more about the husbandry and economic value of Calotropis. The community also gave a go-ahead for the research to be extended to include this promising cotton-like plant by offering more land to be used for the soil moisture experiments. 

Floating rice cultivation: from production to marketing

In Myanmar, a knowledge and capacity training was organised by IWMI and local partners to promote the cultivation and the value chain of floating rice. The importance of this rice variety –that grows very well under flood rise conditions – was becoming less and less, despite its resilient character to cope with harsh flood circumstances. Currently, the IWMI Myanmar team is working on a new study to demystify the trends in farmer crop choices, their drivers and resulting changes to the farming systems of the Ayeyarwady Delta.


Seed sharing in Pakistan

Over a year ago, the FBLN Pakistan chapter started to promote the cultivation of chickpeas in Balochistan, a major protein source with high returns when compared to the cultivation of winter wheat and mustard plant. As a result of this, the cultivation of this crop has seen a stark increase. Farmers used a Whatsapp group to exchange experience. This year, the spate floods arrived late in Balochistan’s Bhag Kachi, promising a good cultivation of winter crops. Farmers were again advised to grow chickpea, upon which better seed varieties were requested to obtain higher yields. Upon mutual agreement to share the costs of purchase and transportation by 50/50 between the farmers and FBLN, 800 kg of improved chickpea seeds (FIFA 2005 variety) were purchased from the Arid Zone Research Centre in Dera Ismail Khan. It is estimated that about 410 hectares are now under chickpea cultivation in Bhag Kachi.

Research on soil moisture management in the Gash

This is about changing the water management in the Gash Agricultural System – the large flood based system in Eastern Sudan. A main activity in 2017 by the Hydraulic Research Center (HRC), the convenor of FBLN Sudan country chapter in Sudan. The opportunity was this: flood water is spread over huge land blocks of sometimes 8 kilometres long without any internal distribution system. This had its roots in the old communal land tenure system that has now been modified, giving farmers the opportunity to invest in their own land improvements. As reported on in an earlier newsflash, construction of field canals and bunds took place to channel the floodwaters efficiently. A large on-farm water management trial has been executed monitoring the soil moisture availability for crops (in this case sorghum) along the season to research the field water distribution and the effect of water availability on the crop growth and quality and water productivity. Outcomes of the experiment show that after construction of the field canals and bunds, the water distribution improved significantly which in turn improved farmer field-water management. Moreover, the soil moisture samples showed that the soil keeps moisture even after harvesting. The improved soil moisture increased the sorghum yield significantly and the residual moisture after harvesting even initiated new growth of sorghum (see pictures).  So the opportunity is real to make a big breakthrough in water and land productivity in the Gash System.