News / Africa

Israel Teaches Irrigation Methods to Senegalese Farming Students

The university's agricultural training field is part of an ongoing cooperation between Israel and Senegal that began in 2006 and aims to reduce poverty through farming innovation.

Senegalese farming students get hands-on experience with drip irrigation in the university's Israeli-funded 'field school'
Senegalese farming students get hands-on experience with drip irrigation in the university's Israeli-funded 'field school'

Israeli and Senegalese officials inaugurated an agricultural training field for university students in Dakar as part of Israel's ongoing effort to share its agricultural expertise with African countries looking to raise farm productivity and reduce their dependence on imports.

On a large field in the middle of Dakar's sprawling Cheikh Ante Diop University campus, agricultural students tend tomato, cucumber and hot pepper plants.

In a drip irrigation network, holes in the long hoses deposit precise amounts of water to each sprout
In a drip irrigation network, holes in the long hoses deposit precise amounts of water to each sprout

It is not a typical Senegalese garden, but rather a "field school," where students have partnered with Israeli experts to learn innovative irrigation methods.  

Thin plastic hoses are threaded neatly into the lines of vegetable plants and swirled around the bases of mango, lemon and papaya trees. The hoses are connected to central water pumps, and small holes in the hoses over each sprout deliver precise amounts of water directly to the plant at prescribed intervals.

Drip irrigation

It is a system called drip irrigation, an Israeli invention, first developed in the 1960s, that is now a cornerstone of the country's agricultural diplomacy.

Israel is currently training farmers in the West African nations of Senegal, Ivory Coast and Gabon.

Standing in the university garden in Dakar, Israel's Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Shalom Simhon, said irrigation technology is fundamental to farming in semi-arid environments, something Israel has learned firsthand in its desert climate.


He says drip irrigation is a very efficient use of water, and it allows farmers to respond to the specific needs of each plant without overwatering. The world is getting drier, he says, and water sources are becoming more scarce. Countries, he says, can not afford to rely only on rain for agriculture, and irrigation technology is essential.

Nearly 10 million people in the West African countries of Niger and Chad currently face severe food shortages brought on by erratic rains and poor harvests in 2009. Aid workers say poverty and lack of irrigation make farmers in the Sahel region vulnerable to even slight climate changes.

Simhon says improved farming practices, like drip irrigation and water recycling, have helped Israel conserve water and almost double its farming output in the last decade, leaving the country with a food surplus.

"Game-changers"

He says these technologies could be game-changers for African countries like Senegal that imports 80 percent of its food.

Botanist and head of the university's Plant Biology Department, Kandioura Noba, agrees.  He says farmers are currently dependent on rain, which allows only one harvest each year. With drip irrigation, he says, farmers can have as many as three harvests per year. Just imagine, he says, what this ability to farm year-round could do for Senegal.

Noba says the newly-inaugurated agricultural training field gives his students the chance to get hands-on experience with new farming technologies.

One such student, 26-year-old farmer Thierno Sow, said he was skeptical of the drip irrigation method at first, but the results have been nothing short of extraordinary.

Sow says when we installed the watering network ourselves and began to use it, I saw that it wasn't complicated. Once you set it up, he says you calculate the number of irrigation hours based on the stage of the plant and then make a calendar for the season. Then, all you have to do, he says, is turn on and off the water.  

Sow says drip irrigation is but one of the methods he has learned that he will take back to his community, but that is not all.

He says this training has given him a leg up in the job market. He says there are a lot of organizations looking for youth who are skilled in the latest farming technologies, environmental science and the exportation of crops.

The university's agricultural training field is part of an ongoing cooperation between Israel and Senegal that began in 2006 and aims to reduce poverty through farming innovation.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid