Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

What to know about Commercializing Drip Technology to Smallholders

 Despite all the opportunities drip irrigation presents -- increasing yields, year-round production, efficient water use, and more -- few smallholder farmers use it. Why? Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation recently undertook two studies to explore what factors limit drip irrigation companies from entering smallholder markets with their products and services.

One study examines the market for drip irrigation for smallholder farmers in eastern and southern Africa, including the size and characteristics of the smallholder farmer market segment in each country, the enabling environment, and the country-specific opportunities and challenges in commercializing drip irrigation for smallholders.

The second study compares Partnering for Innovation’s three partnerships with drip irrigation companies, as well as one other commercialization-focused development project. Each of these partnerships had a different approach to commercialization, providing examples of how other companies might design their entry into the smallholder market.

You can find the full reports here. Three of the main report findings for understanding the smallholder market for drip technology include: 

  • Farmers who are producing high value crops at a commercial level are most likely to benefit from drip irrigation.
  • Youth farmers more readily adopt new technologies and thus are a good target segment for entering smallholder markets.
  • National government policies need to be reviewed and understood to successfully commercialize drip across a market segment.

Additionally, when working with any agricultural technology in a smallholder market, it is always smart to remember that it is often risky for farmers to test and adopt innovations. Companies (and development projects) commercializing drip irrigation in smallholder markets should be sure to go the extra mile with early adopters with training and maintenance support. Their success will model a new technologies use among their peers.

Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation is a US Agency for International Development (USAID) program that helps the private sector to scale and market agricultural technologies for smallholder farmers through investing in technology commercialization and knowledge exchange. Have questions or ideas? Post below in the comments section! Or, for more information, visit us at the AgTechXChange, call us at 202-733-1198, or email us at innovation@fintrac.com.

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