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Increasing on-farm water productivity through farmer-participatory evaluation of affordable microirrigation vegetable-based technology in Cambodia
journal contributionposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by M Palada, Surya BhattaraiSurya Bhattarai, M Roberts, N Baxter, M Bhattarai, R Kimsan, S Kan, DL Wu
Using affordable drip irrigation systems to grow high-value crops including vegetables can increase water use efficiency and improve labor productivity in water-limited regions. Research was conducted in Cambodia during two consecutive dry seasons (2006-2007) to evaluate and compare efficiencies in water use, labor and production inputs in vegetable cultivation under drip, furrow and traditional handwatering methods. On-farm trials involving 40-60 farmers were established in Svay Rieng and Prey Ving districts of Cambodia to determine the efficiency and productivity of selected vegetables under three irrigation methods. An affordable (low-cost) drip irrigation drum kit developed by the International Development Enterprises (IDE) was used in all trials. In 2006, drip irrigation resulted in 95% and 85% increases in water and labor productivity, respectively, compared to the traditional practices of handwatering and furrow irrigation. Economic returns to labor increased by 67%. Drip irrigation increased yield and decreased labor use by almost 50%. In 2007, integration of improved crop management methods such as combining fertilizer with drip irrigation, increased yield by 30%, water use efficiency by 20% and net returns from cucumber production by 15%. Overall, average labor use decreased 83% with drip irrigation and increased net returns by 153%. In 2008, drip irrigation increased yield byalmost 50 percent but reduced net income by 25 percent. However, using drip irrigation significantly decreased water use by 33 percent. The decrease in irrigation water applied resulted in significant increase in water use efficiency (WUE) for cucumber, eggplant and yard-long bean. Overall, drip irrigation gave water saving of 48% over traditional practice. This project demonstrates the benefits of affordable microirrigation coupled with high-value vegetable production in increasing on-farm water productivity in regions where irrigation water is a limited resource during the dry season.