Solar-powered drip irrigation systems significantly increased vegetable production in villages in the western African nation of Benin,improving nutrition and boosting household incomes, according to a newstudy.
The study, led by a researcher at Stanford University’s Programon Food Security and the Environment, installed solar-powered dripirrigation systems in two villages in Benin and compared theimpact with two nearby villages that did not have drip irrigationsystems. The study found that, after a year, farmers with the solarirrigation systems saw vegetable production increase by 500 to 750grams per person per day — three to five times greater than thevillages that did not have irrigation systems. The significantlyincreased yield meant that farmers could feed their families and sellup to 80 percent of their harvest at local markets, sharply increasinghousehold income, according to the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.The researchers noted that only 4 percent of cropland in sub-SaharanAfrica is irrigated and that the spread of solar-powered dripirrigation technology “could be an important source of povertyalleviation and food security in the marginal environments common tosub-Saharan Africa.”
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