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

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora