Location & Date:
POLICY RELEVANT ISSUES:
The major identified policy relevant issues are as summarized below:
- Ad hoc provision of farm inputs and facilities (seeds, fertilizers, machinery for operation and maintenance, transportation and storage, etc.) has a significant cascade negative effect on cropping and irrigation planning, and is a key contributing factor to poor productivity (kg/m3, kg/ha) and production (kg). Addressing this issue requires a top-down and bottom up approach:
- Top-down: The existing Higher Committee for Successful Agricultural Season (HCSAS) should be expanded to include representatives from the private sectors involved in transportation, Ginning and other processing factories; producers and consumers, insurance, petroleum suppliers, etc. This Committee should be chaired by the Prime Minister.
- Bottom-up: consolidating and upscaling the few successful Farmers groups and their partnerships with the private sector. The project has documented the functional Beida (West Menagil), Elkumur (South Gezira) and Taiba Sherig (Central Gezira), Kremit (East Menagil) Block level farmer groups that have established a solid partnership with private financing sector through different mechanisms. The Beida Block Farmer groups have for instance received a loan of 220 Million SDG that enabled the supply of all necessary farming inputs in a timely manner. They have subsequently fully repaid their loans. Further to their financial success, these and other farmer groups should create awareness among their members with regard to abiding by the technical irrigation and agricultural practices primarily crop rotation and irrigation scheduling,
- To expand the use and impact of WaPoR, there is a need to institutionalize it through:
- Establishment of dedicated WaPoR Service Hubs composed of multidisciplinary team (irrigation, agriculture, socio-economics, etc.). For sustainability, the Hubs should be embedded within an existing institution. The relevant institution should be selected based on a set of criteria such as: (i) location in the vicinity of major irrigation and agricultural schemes and wide experience in irrigation water management; (ii) the target institution is highly interested in Remote Sensing (RS) or RS is already an integral component of its activities.
- Mainstream the application of WaPoR in the curricula of all major universities and knowledge centers. This will ensure the continuous nurturing of young talent as well as updating the skills and know-how of mid-career professionals and practitioners.
- To achieve item 2, there is a need to train a core team of professionals and practitioners on the basics of remote sensing and WaPoR application in each of the identified host institutions. This could be one of the major components of WaPoR Phase II project.
- Re-evaluate the exiting cropping and irrigation schedule using WaPOR and RS supported production of Water use efficiency and crop suitability maps; and advice the farmers accordingly.
- The HCSAS should seasonally set a productivity target. Farmers who achieve or surpass this target should be rewarded with attractive incentives such as provision of subsidized farm inputs and machinery, acknowledgement in high-level government meetings. This is expected to encourage others to make efforts and be the next winners of such incentives.
- Given the urgency for improving production and productivity, there is a need for a strong policy advocacy for low-cost interventions (e.g. improving crop rotation and irrigation scheduling) that can lead to realizing higher productivity and production in a much shorter period of time as compared to huge infrastructural investment.
- Ministry of Culture and Information in collaboration with relevant line Ministries (MoIWR, MoAF, and others) to introduce a regular TV and Radio programs with a focus on smart water and farming practices and solutions. There was in the past a popular programs: Farm and Science (Al Hagil Wel Eilm) that must be relaunched.
- To strengthen the bond and timely address issues, it is imperative to have meetings on a regular basis among farmer representatives, engineers and agricultural inspectors at a sub-division level. There are some experiences where farmers have covered the expenses of an extension service worker in exchange for valuable advice.
- Extensive awareness campaign to highlight that responsible farmers who care and attend for their irrigation and farming duties makes big difference in the production and productivity. The Phase I project has demonstrated that Menagil farmers who are constantly present and looking after their irrigated fields have higher yield and water productivity than their Gezira counterpart farmers. One outlet for awareness creation could be the TV and Radio programs.
- The field irrigation engineers directly link the level of services they provide to farmers with the water fees. The assert that 500 SDG per feddan is not enough to cover the required irrigation services that can lead to high agricultural productivity and production.
- The current cadre of irrigation engineers is insufficient in quantity and in need of major capacity enhancement. There are various occasions where farmers individually and illegally decide to expand their irrigated area as soon as they notice there is ample water to harvest. The monitoring system in place is very weak and there is poor follow-up and accountability.
- Excessive irrigation is a key driving force for water logging, high humidity and subsequently the emergence of infectious mesquite trees as well as prevalence of pests and diseases such as rust disease and mealy bugs.
- Prepare detailed maps of Gezira and the other irrigation schemes: Irrigation facilities and Cropped area, Topography, Soil Fertility and others.
Recommendations from General Director of the Hydraulics Research Center:
The General Director of the Hydraulics Research Center recommended all to: diagnosing problems, developing a road map and integrating the work, and start creating a database for the project
Recommendations From field officials to decision-makers:
- The irrigation representative in the south of the Gezira recommended raising awareness of the culture of irrigation structures and making farmers partners in the maintenance of the structures.
- The importance of soil analysis and comparing between Gezira and Managel soil.
- The manager of Al-Mansi Agricultural division recommended the necessity of strengthening the relationship with the Meteorological Authority to provide guidance regarding irrigation
- the Steering Committee of Gezira and Managel Farmers Union recommended involved farmers in creating laws and driving laws from farmers’ culture.
- Create minimum units to help manage irrigation for optimal water use.
- The inspector of Al-hoosh Agricultural division recommended Farmer’s teamwork and constant communication with research centers
- The importance of agricultural management that is concerned with the presence of the farmer in his field and the extent of this impact on the water and agricultural productivity.
- The manager of the south Gezira irrigation division recommended that farmers to stick to the crop rotation.
Recommendations from Gezira Scheme Directory to decision-makers:
- Gezira Scheme Directory recommended Establishing a joint database between the Gezira Scheme Directory and the Ministry of Irrigation.
- Activating the role of agricultural extension societies.
- All workers who work in the Gezira Scheme need to be optimally qualified.
- Gezira Scheme Directory recommended create body consisting from irrigation administration, the management of the Gezira Scheme, and all the production partners must be created to operate as one unit.
Recommendations From farmers to decision-makers:
- Intensifying agricultural guidance and proposing a weekly radio or television program that deals with issues and problems of agriculture and irrigation and their solutions.
- Official and legal plan for violations.
- The farmers called for the provision and creation of an appropriate environment for those in charge of Agriculture management (Gezira scheme – irrigation ministry).
The Agriculture Research Corporation (ARC) should have more effort in developing new techniques which is their mandate for applying the practices in the field e.g using planes for the chemical fertilizers (this would shorten the time and would not let over dosage use by the farmers), also the agriculture inspector should put more effort in monitoring the farmers.