Newsflash November 2017

Flood-based farming documentary from Sudan

Most of our readers have heard about the Gash Agricultural Scheme before. Did you know however that many more flood-based farming schemes can be found in Sudan? The FBLN chapter in this country has recently completed a comprehensive short documentary about the diversity of flood schemes in different corners of the country.

FBLN activities in the context of Yemen’s food crisis

We would like to ask your attention for the food crisis in the Tihama region. Since July, our team in Yemen has been assessing the status and ways forward for flood-based farming in the area. Currently, the FBLN Yemen Chapter is working on a proposal to improve food security in the Tihama, focused on soil conservation. Wadi Zabid and Wadi Siham were recently visited to share best soil and water conservation practices with WUAs and farmer groups. On top of that, a new Practical Note on groundwater recharge and saving in spate irrigation areas is published.

Photo left: Meeting with WUA leaders in Wadi Siham; Photo right: Soil moisture experiment in Wadi Zabid

Farmer-to-Farmer Experience Sharing in Ethiopia

Mekelle University is organising an experience sharing workshop for 40 farmers and experts from six Regional States in Ethiopia. The IFAD ‘Africa to Asia’ project co-finances this workshop. Field visits will lead them to the Chifra flood spreading weirs (Afar region), the Gobu spate system (Amhara region), and the Oda and Tsige’a spate systems (Tigray region).

In the latter two, the hybrid flood diversion structures will be visited as well. The FBLN Ethiopia Chapter recently did a focus group discussion in these Oda and Tsige’a systems. Members of the Water User Association mentioned that the hybrid diversion structure has more than doubled the command area under spate irrigation, with more farmers benefiting from irrigation per day. 

Effectiveness of moisture conservation measures in yield optimisation

As part of FBLN Kenya’s efforts, ICRAF is doing research on the effectiveness of spate water in optimising sorghum yields. The field experiments take place in Kajiado county, being one of the counties in Kenya that face frequent flooding. The study plots have been treated with different soil moisture conservation measures and moisture sensors are placed at various depths to monitor the amount of moisture retained. After the fields were flooded with spate water, sorghum seeds were planted. At the moment, the plant growth and soil moisture are actively monitored. The results will be used to advice farmers about the best soil moisture conservation techniques.

Photo left: Soil sampling using a closed auger; Photo right: Installation of soil moisture sensors

Announcement: In-situ Water Harvesting for resilient farming systems course

The Water Harvesting Lab of the University of Florence is organising its third international online course on water harvesting. The deadline for applications is December 16th 2017.

To increase the resilience of smallholder farmers to a changing climate in arid and semi-arid regions, there is a need to optimise in-field water harvesting techniques. With improved in-field water harvesting, captured rainfall can sustain crop production during mid-season dry spells, reduce crop failures and ultimately lead to improved household food security. This course helps you to understand the options to increase water productivity in rain-fed agriculture. Modules and case studies are prepared by lecturers from:

  • Hashemite University, Jordan
  • Mekelle University, Ethiopia
  • MetaMeta Research, the Netherlands
  • University of Florence, Italy

The course is available online on the Moodle platform from February 12th until October 31st 2018. Enrolment requires a high-school diploma. The course fee is € 150. 10 participants from countries where water scarcity and access to water are a limiting factor to development, can be enrolled with NO TUITION in case the registration fee is a hindering factor for enrolment. For information and enrolment, you can contact Prof. Elena Bresci:


Intermediary mechanisation for dug-out ponds construction

A recent water harvesting project in Tanzania has brought interesting insights for the construction of dug-out ponds. Read all about the use of ox-drawn ploughs, scoops and compactors in this new Practical Note