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Cheap drip irrigation could transform small farms

Peter Frykman founded Driptech to provide low-cost drip-irrigation systems to small farmers, hiking their crop yields by 20 to 90 percent.

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Our product is much simpler to sell and install than traditional drip irrigation and hence can be sold through many more channels. Today we primarily distribute through agriproducts companies in India and through governments in China. In three to five years, we expect to distribute our products in several additional countries.

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We provide training to the employees of our distribution partners dedicated to our account on how to install our drip irrigation system, and they go on and train the farmers on how to install our system post sale.

We also work with our partners to develop training and marketing materials.

How can drip irrigation have an impact on farming, especially small plot farmers?

In order to feed the world in the next 40 years, global food output will need to climb 70 percent. The agriculture sector currently uses 70 percent of the world’s fresh water resources and 80 percent of the world’s farmland.

The challenge of meeting future human agricultural needs is not just about increasing yield: It’s about increasing yield while decreasing the amount of water agriculture demands. The agriculture sector in developing countries is especially water inefficient using 81 percent of their total freshwater resources, much of which is wasted through inefficient irrigation techniques.

Many smallholder farmers currently work to feed their families with the food they produce, but have little or nothing left over to sell in the marketplace. The installation of a Driptech system allows these farmers to grow crops year-round while conserving water, labor, and time.

Drip irrigation increases crop yields by 20 to 90 percent. Farmers are able to produce enough vegetables to meet their own families’ nutritional needs, grow additional crops to sell in local markets, and grow high-value crops during the dry season. Crops grown using Driptech’s product have brought some farmers 50 to 150 percent higher market prices. The cost of a system is usually repaid within six months through yield increase and water and labor savings.

In addition, Driptech’s decentralized manufacturing model will deploy production facilities directly to where the product is sold, adding jobs to rural economies while allowing for local customization of the systems and additional cost reductions.

Could Driptech technology be applied in Somalia?
In the case of Somalia, the farmers must rely on the rain since there is little water infrastructure help from the government. In this case, Driptech's system would help these small-plot farmers use their meager water supplies more efficiently so that they could have enough water to irrigate their land throughout the dry season.

Our system could also help these farmers increase their crop yields and quality of their crop, providing them and their families with more nutritious calories. Basically, along with appropriate farming techniques, a Driptech system would help dampen the effects of drought by helping people avoid not being able to feed themselves.

This article first appeared on Dowser.org.

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