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The Importance Of Irrigation Agriculture Environmental Sciences Essay

The importance of irrigation agriculture for a country having agricultural lead industrialization policy and rainfall dependent community to cultivate is not far from anybody. Ethiopia recently has a population of over 80 million. Of these 80 percent are living in rural area and their day to day breath is depend on rain-fed agriculture and not food self sufficient. To make theses community food self sufficient irrigation agriculture can be one way conjunction with rain-fed agriculture. The country has huge water potential that can be used for irrigation. Thought the countries water potential for irrigation is high, due to many reason the country’s capacity to support agriculture through development of irrigation has been weak (Mengistu, 2000).

Ethiopia endowed with relatively higher amounts of rainfall in the region and has a surface runoff of about 122 billion m3 of water and 28,000 Mm³ ground water (GoE,1999). The abundant water resources have earned Ethiopia the name “the water tower of East Africa” (United Nations Development Programme 2006). However, even had this estimated water potential, the country cannot assure its food self-sufficiency. If the country uses all its efforts to collect all available water resources for crop production, there is a possibility that the country can cover its food deficit and can also export some crops like oil crops and cereals.

Thought water resource potential is significant in Ethiopia, use of this resource especially for irrigation agriculture is not that much as its water potential. Cognizant to this fact, the government has taken initiatives towards developing irrigation schemes of various scales (Desta, 2004)

Recently the government look at towards irrigation development projects from small scale to large scale to become food self sufficient.

Ethiopia indeed has significant irrigation potential. Realizing the potential irrigation development can contribute towards food security and improved welfare, the Government has embarked on wide range of water development efforts throughout the country. In the last decade, small-scale irrigation and rainwater harvesting were the government agricultural policy to increase crop productivity and reduce water shortage for crop and animal production. In some parts of the regions, where there are scarce and erratic rainfall, there is evidence that irrigation has achieved positive impacts: better opportunity for production, better income, reduction of risks, and hence generated benefits for poor rural communities.

Ethiopian’s population increases averagely 3% per year. To feed these rapidly increase population as a country rain fed irrigation alone can not a solution rather intervention of irrigation agriculture can be a solution for the country having huge water potential for irrigation. Many developing countries cannot meet their food consumption using rain fed agriculture that is why many of them Intervening irrigated agriculture in the economy to feed their rapidly increased population (Hailemariam, 2008).

Irrigation is needed at any time when the moisture of the soil is not capable for plant growth while the water is available. Once if the soil moisture cannot supply enough moisture to the plant, the plant cannot grow or if it grows it cannot bring expected production. Therefore to avoid crop production failure due to moisture stress and increase crop production applying water to the crop is important. But the main determinant of irrigation projects in developing countries are its need of high cost of initial investment capital and operating and maintenance cost in case of construct huge dames or high river diversions. On the other hand if we see small scale irrigation projects they may not asking huge investment capital and operation and maintenance and it should be recommended for those developing countries which cannot stand with two legs in irrigation agriculture sector. But when we start intervening irrigation to the area we should start from suitability of available water resources.

The country has highly-diversified agro-ecological conditions which are suitable for the production of various types of crops. The crops are produced under rain fed and irrigated condition.

The government of Ethiopia(2010) in its Agricultural sector and investment framework policy, 2010-2020 stated that Cereals dominate Ethiopian agriculture, accounting for about 70 per cent of agricultural GDP Over the past decade, cereal production has more than doubled to nearly 15 million tones, as a result of horizontal expansion and increased yields.

Even thought the government of Ethiopia (2010) in its Agricultural sector and investment framework policy, 2010-2020 stated that the food self sufficiency issue is still critical for many households and for the country as a whole (Tadesse, 2009). To challenge food security problem recently promotion of irrigation agriculture is given priority (Mekuria, 2003).Thus, implementation of small scale irrigation including hand dug well construction has become one of the activities both by the individuals as well as the government according to water potential of the area (Tadesse, 2009).

Agriculture and rural development has been the central pillar of successive national development and poverty reduction plans and remains so under the new five year growth and transformation plan (FYGTP) announced in August 2010. There is a need, however, to increase development efforts and resources targeting high-potential rain fed areas and irrigation development, in order to accelerate productivity growth, agricultural led industrialization and long-term food security. Thus groundwater has become an important source for irrigation and it has become an integral part of the irrigation strategy “to overcome food scarcity” in many developing countries including in Ethiopia. Such efforts have helped to expand irrigation with time particularly from 1950’s the expansion has been rapidly increasing (Rosegrant et al., 1999). Most agricultural production is used to meet household consumption needs and, for a very large number of households, there is a prolonged hunger season during the pre-harvest period.

In all increasing productivity in smallholder agriculture is Government’s top priority, recognizing the importance of the smallholder sub-sector, the high prevalence of rural poverty and the large productivity gap. Productivity enhancement however, must be complemented by efforts by introducing effective practices towards the farmer to help farmers from purely subsistence farming to semi-subsistence/ semi-commercial status practicing farming as a business and to adopt more sustainable natural resource management practices in order to arrest and reverse environmental degradation. But this may not achieved only by using rain fed agriculture, rather by conjunction use of surface water and ground water without affecting the environment.

Therefore In order to achieve these far-reaching and ambitious objectives, Irrigation development perceived as one of the strategies with the potential for solving this problem and to be food self-sufficient. The government of Ethiopia has an irrigation development strategy, which aims to develop over 470,000 ha of irrigation by 2016 as promulgated in the Water Sector Strategy of 2001. Of this development, 52% will be large and medium scale schemes while the remaining 48% will be small-scale schemes (Government of the Republic of Ethiopia 2001).

Because of the ambitious government plans to expand small scale irrigation in Ethiopia, and in view of increasing demand of water for various purposes like agricultural, domestic, and industries, a greater emphasis is being laid for a planned and optimal utilization of water resources. Even if Ethiopia has high surface water potential, due to uneven distribution of rainfall in both time and space, the surface water resources are unevenly distributed coupled with increasing water user sectors, may lead to conflict among water users, especially agricultural sector. To narrow this gap and increase productivity per drop of water, surface water alone is not the best solution. Considering this issue; giving emphasis on development of ground water resources for those areas having high ground water potential is crucial.

Problem Sstatement

Water for agriculture is increasingly recognized as a major constraint to improving the lives of the rural poor and is an important component of rural livelihood programs that need to be yet strongly established in Ethiopia. Irrigation has contributed significantly to poverty reduction, food security, and improving the quality of life for rural populations. The majority of existing traditional and modern irrigation schemes are micro level in size. Most of these schemes are used stream, river and lake diversions but some may be dependent on small dams and perennial springs which show ground water potential for irrigation did not get emphasis. Fogera is one of Blue Nile basin area in Ethiopia and known by flooded plain. The woreda has high ground water potential. Now a day there is irrigation practice in the area for production of vegetables, horticulture (onion, tomato and purple) and in some extent maize. Even if there is such practice in the area, beside high ground water potential almost all farmers are used two perennial rivers called Rib and Gumara as a water source for their irrigation crop production using motorized pump. But the beneficiary farmers are those having farm land near or around streams, while those farmers bounded with these rivers and have not farm land around the stream waiting until the rainy season to cultivate crops.

Recently increasing in number of water users for crop production and other uses; the stream flow become drying the downstream especially starting from February to April. This leads to crop failure and reduction in crop production plus conflict among the up- stream and downstream water users. To solve this problem and participate on irrigation those farmers have not farm land around the streams and bounded by two streams, conjunction use of ground water and surface water for irrigation crop production is important. However, to assure these identifying opportunities and major constraints of the community that makes passive on ground water uses for irrigation crop production is primary task to the area having high ground water potential.

Researchable Qquestions

For a specific study of ground water constraints linking with issues of the use for irrigation crop production, a number of questions can be raised. The study tries to address the following major research questions:

What are major constraints of the community to use ground water for irrigation crop production?

Are the communities aware about their ground water potential for crop production?

What types of practices were implemented in the area to promote ground water uses for irrigation crop production by different Governmental and Non-Governmental Organizations?

General and Specific Oobjectives

In the Fogera plain groundwater is important source that can be used for irrigation crops year around. Reducing dependency on rainfall and stream water for crop production little has known about the potential use of ground water in the area. Rain fed agriculture alone cannot be insuring food self-sufficiency for the country having uneven distribution and erratic rainfall. Rather in addition to rain fed, implementing irrigation schemes according to water source potential weather surface or ground water is important. For those areas having high ground water potential, ground water may serve as a water source for irrigation crop production and increase income. But to use this precious natural resource actively and efficiently tackling obstacles related to ground water use for irrigation crop production is the primary task. This paper will investigate constraints in the Fogera Woreda on ground water uses for irrigation crop production.

In particular it will:-

Identify major constraints why farmers are not used ground water for irrigation crop production. Identifying major constraints of the community on ground water use for irrigation crop production, makes easy to decision makers to understand community’s problem on ground water irrigation and searching methods to solve the community’s problem on it.

Evaluate communities' awareness about the area ground water potential uses for irrigation crop production. It is important to the community to make them self-confident about their natural resource. If they are sure about their resource potential for irrigation crop production, they can through their doubt about ground water production potential and can cultivate crops like any perennial (chat) or seasonal which makes them profitable using ground water.

Assessing best practice if there is, to promote ground water use for irrigation crop production in the area by different Governmental and Non-Governmental Organizations. Assessing best practice done in the area on ground water use for irrigation is important for the community to scale up from one kebele to another. These practices also stimulate communities towards ground water use.

Significance of the Study

The government in the Plan for Accelerated and Sustained Development to End Poverty policy (PASDEP, 2010) states to increase its total area of irrigated land from the current 640,000 hectares to about 1.8 Mha to the next five years. The intervention of the plan is to address most of the supply-demand gap within 15 years’ time through increasing the number of large, medium and small-scale irrigation schemes. But to make this dream fact the government should also use all available ware resources including surface and ground water. Fogera woreda has huge potential of ground water and an area of 76%flat which is suitable for irrigation. So the main objective of the study is identifying opportunities and major constraints of ground water use for irrigation crop production in the ground water rich area. once identifying major constraints and solve them the community involved completely on the use of ground water use for irrigation crop production and can play their role to the government plan pulse increasing their income.

The use of available water resources especially stream water is critical issue in the area for irrigation crop production and is source of conflict in the area. The study can also important to avoid and manage conflicts and ensure the participation of low level communities in the area if we can solve the communities’ problem on ground water use for irrigation.

Scope and Limitation of the Study

The study covers the time period of 2010/11in Fogera flood plain to identify opportunities and major constraints of the community on ground water use for irrigation crop production. There are more than 27 kebeles in the Fogera woreda but only six of them which are Kokit, Kideste Hana, Sena,Shaga,Nabega and Wagetera are only part of the study because of their natural location on the flood plain.

But to do this the study also has its own limitation including, unavailability of ground water recharging rate and other related issue of ground water to show ground water potential of the study area, proper document on of training that farmers took on irrigation, yield of last season production of the farmers because farmers are not comfortable when they ask about their amount of income, The specific types of soil at the flood plain, water yield of wells and others. However to hit the target of the study, the study uses main questions and available secondary data which are use fill for the study.


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