Pro-Sahel – Innovation and technology in small-scale irrigation systems for small-scale producers in the Sahel

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Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Water is scarce and pivotal for the Sahel, not only for increasing the productivity for millions of small-scale farmers but also for countering loss of arable land resulting from erosion and warming temperatures. A major barrier to the use of water in the Sahel is the lack of infrastructure and technologies – 45 percent of the population do not have access to water, and only 2 percent of arable land is irrigated (OECD, 2022).

Technologies that are context specific can help increase agricultural productivity and attract investments, thereby accelerating sustainable development. Investments in such technologies can improve financial returns from irrigated crop land. While irrigation technologies are a primary need in the Sahel, other technologies can also contribute to improved performance of agrifood systems.

In 2021, under the leadership of the Chief Scientist Office, FAO piloted the Pro-Sahel project, which aims to scale up investments in irrigation technologies for small-scale farmers in the Niger and Burkina Faso. The Pro-Sahel project invested USD 500 000 to deliver two national roadmaps for investing in and scale up of small-scale irrigation technologies. The project was conducted in close partnership with Akademiya2063, an African institution specialized in economic analysis and policy advice for African development, together with national stakeholders from the agriculture and irrigation sectors in Burkina Faso and Niger, and FAO Country Offices, the FAO Regional Office for Africa, the Hand-in-Hand initiative, and expertise from the Investment Centre in Rome.

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