Irrigation can play a key role in developing the agricultural sector in Sub-Saharan Africa by addressing barriers, gaps, and risks at the production stage of food systems, especially for small-scale producers (SSP). Despite this promise, just ~3-6% of total cropland in the region is irrigated, lagging far behind the global average of ~20%. The potential to expand irrigation in places with sufficient water availability could amount to an additional 19 million hectares of irrigated croplands (~7% of total), impacting an estimated 20-30 million SSP households across the region. Limited existing adoption is due to barriers in knowledge, technology, finance, and policy/legal dimensions.

Fortunately, innovative business models and technologies are emerging that address some of these constraints in an effort to scale irrigation for small-scale producers across the region.

ISF Advisors and Hystra are pleased to announce a new report exploring the current state and future potential of the small-scale irrigation market in Sub-Saharan Africa. The research articulates the investment and activities needed to help scale irrigation technology for small-scale producers and identifies opportunities for donors and investors to catalyze further investment in this sector. Key goals of the work also included:

  1. Summarize the impacts of access to irrigation for small-scale producers and overall market potential in Sub-Saharan Africa
  2. Identify barriers at the customer, company, and country levels that are preventing irrigation potential from being realized
  3. Unpack emerging private sector solutions that could scale irrigation usage
  4. Explore potential for future collaboration between key actors in the space

This report presents our findings from an extensive desk review of existing research, interviews with 70+ key stakeholders in the sector, and in-depth case studies of 6 private sector solution providers. The intended audience is the broader agricultural development community, including donors, private sector actors, investors, government stakeholders, researchers, and recipients.

This research was made possible by funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The opinions and findings expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views, strategy, or funding priorities of the Foundation.

Read the report summary and watch the webinar recording.

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