Analysis: Affordable Technology Is Crucial For Farmers Facing Drought

Written by Dana Sanchez

Hosea Mwaana, a small-scale farmer in Zambia’s Pemba district, waters a hectare (close to 2.5 acres) of crops with a $400-dollar irrigation technology made using a modified motorized engine powered by a 12-volt solar panel.

“I was introduced to this by a colleague about two years ago and since then I have been looking for ways to multiply the technology for the sake of other farmers,” Mwaana said in a report in InDepthNews.

Mwaana calls the unconventional technology “the Zambian center pivot system.”

It’s a technology best suited for farmers with uneven landscapes, he said — it can pump water to higher elevations of the field for an even distribution of water to the planted crops.

The technology Mwaana is using is important because in drought-stricken Zambia, it amounts to access to cheap irrigation technology, says says Friday Phiri in an InDepthNews analysis.

More than 13o,ooo Zambian households need urgent food relief following crop failures caused by erratic rainfall during the last harvest season, Zambian President Edgar Lungu told parliament this month, according to a report in

In some places, drought has affected the past two consecutive seasons,causing food and water shortages.

For communities whose livelihoods are dependent on climate-sensitive activities such as agriculture and fishing, adaptation to climate change must include simple but viable technologies, says Friday Phiri in an InDepthNews analysis.

Mwaana’s technology is a homegrown idea and the farmer-entrepreneur has asked for government support to expand the irrigation product and benefit as many smallholder farmers as possible who are struggling to cope with effects of climate change.

“Climate change is now a common word in our community but most of us have taken it in the negative,” Mwaana said. “For example, we complain of drought but drought comes with the sun (solar energy) which this irrigation technology thrives on.

“So, my appeal to government is to find ways of turning this problem into opportunities for the local people,” Mwaana told the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Livestock and his entourage when they visited his booth during an agricultural show exhibition in Zambian city of Livingstone.