The technology of Water Harvesting and Conservation Agriculture was developed and demonstrated by the Agric. Engineering, Irrigation Systems & Water Harvesting Research Center, ARC. By developing this technology, Sudan was able to face the problem of alleviated the most common drought and dry spells impact on rain-fed crop productivity and stabilized and significantly increased crop yield and improved farmers food security and income. The main goal of the program is to increase food and nutrition security and diversify rural income and employment opportunities for men, women, and youth, which achieved the objectives of transforming the traditional rain-fed sector producing at the subsistence level to profitable, competitive sustainable economic sector.
This technology was developed from 2010 to 2013 and piloted in Kordofan, Gadaref and White Nile States. Starting from 2014 with the support of the Federal Ministry Finance and National Planning it has been scaling up over 15 states as a national program to 2019.
Number of activities were applied in order to implement this solution:
- Establishment of innovation platforms on technology transfer and extension centers and at innovative farmers fields where centers are unavailable for demonstration and introduction of technology to producers and serve as training ground for extension agents and farmers,
- Provision of advisory services for farmers in selection of appropriate technological package relevant to hydrological, soils and topographic elements of farm land and mapping of farm plots,
- Training of farmers on proper implementation and operation and management of schemes,
- Facilitate organizing farmers into producer groups (GPs) to access credit for acquiring inputs and services of water harvesting and mechanization from service providers,
- Submission of list interest farmers to adopt the technological packages improvement to credit institutions and private sector service providers with farmland area and cost of investment,
- Monitoring and follow-up of systems performance.
During the scaling up phase the ARC stations and the state Ministries of Agriculture have provided the technical advisory services including training on proper implementation by farmers, while the private sector represented by the service providers (machinery owners, agro-dealers, and micro-finance) are engaged in providing mechanized land cultivation and inputs supply supported by credit through microfinance arrangement to farmers.
The most successful element proved to be a climate smart agriculture practice that integrated the available water resources for increased agricultural water productivity that substantially improved the main staple field crops (sorghum, millet, sesame, and groundnut) yields comparing with the traditional practices. The most tangible outcome is the matching of crop water requirements by harvesting extra surface runoff water otherwise wasted and evenly distributed and water conservation techniques that led to increased and stabilized crop yield in erratic rainfall zones.
Thus, harvesting of overland surface runoff from catchment area and good distribution within the field by the construction of earth contour bunds and deep storage in the soil profile through chisel plow which creates vertical micro-pores has proven to be a good soil and water conservation measure and smart climate agriculture. It bridges the crop water requirement deficit in arid zone of pronounced low and poor distributed annual rainfall (300 – 400 mm) as well as provided a good soil moisture condition for greater response of sorghum, sesame and groundnut crops to micro-dose NPK fertilizer application to remarkably increases crop yield to 1200 kg/fed, 400 kg/fed and 800 kg/fed, respectively. The Conservation Agriculture, on the other hand, has improved crop yield significantly on areas of apparent high rainfall (500 – 700 mm), but normally produces poor crop due to remarkable runoff water loss by 30 to 40 %, which traced back to inefficient no-farm water management practices. The use of CA provided typical solution and remedial measures eliminated and minimized adverse effects of water and soil loss and hence enhanced sorghum productivity for instance to as high as 1400 – 1700 ka/fed compared to 400 – 600 kg/fed under traditional practices.
Also, the transformation of small traditional farmers from subsistence level of production to market driven and demand production supported by the adoption of improved technological packages leading to increased crop productivity was the positive impact applied on the target beneficiaries.
Budget: For successful adoption and scale-up of the solution, private sector service providers (machinery owners, agro-dealers, and micro-finance) are required to support the installation of water harvesting and CA techniques and availing inputs. These modern tools of best practices are not available to small producers, and through micro-finance, farmers could access them where the cost of feddan is around USD 80 (USD 192 per ha). In addition, technical support is needed for training of extension agents and farmers, which would cost about USD 50 per trainee, as well as increasing the portfolio credit volume of the micro-finance institutions and development of three distinct rural financial delivery models in the form of ABSUMI model, village savings and credit groups model and community owned central "sanduq" fund; and loans ceiling to improve the outreach of credit to large group of producers.
Prof. Mekki Abdellatif Omer (Ph.D)
Director of Agric. Engineering, Irrigation Systems & Water Harvesting Research Center, ARC, Soba
P.O. Box 30, Khartoum North (Shambat)
Tel.: +249-912953593, +249-112252418