Nebraska (U.S.) team wins grant to advance irrigation access in six African nations


An interdisciplinary University of Nebraska (NU) team led by the Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute (DWFI), has received a three-year, US$1 million grant from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to advance access and education around smallholder farmer irrigation in Africa.

IFAD, an international financial institution and specialized agency of the United Nations, invests in the prosperity and resilience of rural communities throughout the world. Small-scale agriculture, a proven method of poverty reduction, is central to their development model.

“Irrigation is a key tool for empowering smallholder farmers to increase their food and nutritional security. This project is about understanding and supporting the community of enterprises, including for-profit, non-profit, and government-managed, that are needed to help farmers access irrigation and benefit from it. The work is intended to be very responsive to what people need,” said Nicholas Brozović, director of policy for DWFI, professor of agricultural economics and primary investigator for the grant. “We’re trying to support young people, particularly entrepreneurs who have their own company or are interested in starting one, to build their technical capacity and connections while also incorporating both gender and nutrition elements.”

The grant, partially matched and co-funded by DWFI, will focus on work in six countries: Rwanda, Ethiopia, Burundi, Senegal, Niger and The Gambia. Collaborating closely with local partners, the team will explore whether identified business models for providing irrigation to smallholder farmers are inclusive and sustainable within their existing markets. As well as supporting entrepreneurs working with smallholder farmers, the program will share information gained from the research with young professionals, students and others who are interested in agricultural entrepreneurship.

Project outputs include online content focused on agricultural entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa; country reports and insights; workshops, meet-ups, networking and other capacity-building programs; and agribusiness mentoring, incubation and acceleration programs. These research and engagement efforts will lay the groundwork for pathways to scale-up innovative irrigation business models. Ultimately, proposals for pilots from the project’s partners – including existing and new business models – will then be submitted for testing and potential scaling-up.



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