1. Analyze Opportunities and Risks
Innovative cultivation practices in irrigated farming (Source: Andreas Hahn)
Promotion efforts provide specific information to targeted producers. This enables decision-making in view of securing and/or increasing the agricultural production potential by modernizing and improving irrigation capacities. It is therefore important to carry out a preliminary reflection of the possible benefits of a particular technology option, the prospect of its application in the specific rural context and the chances resulting there from.
The GET INFORMED module familiarizes the agricultural advisor or the development practitioner (the promoter) with the main aspects of the technology. Next, the promoter should obtain information on particular products and system solutions offered on the local market.
The tool PROMOTE & INITIATE – SPIS Rapid Assessment Tool helps to understand the market for SPIS in a country and/or project region. The tool provides a report template guiding the author through the relevant aspects of SPIS that need to be assessed. This includes:
- a country/project specific assessment of irrigated agriculture, solar energy and agricultural finance;
- existing technologies, financing and promotion mechanisms; and
- a Strength Weakness Opportunity and Threat (SWOT) analysis.
Important: Not all technology solutions and the related services are available everywhere, local markets may be limited in the range of technology options offered.
Even within the same country, substantial regional differences may be found!
With a good information basis on the availability and specifics of technology options, the promoter can analyze the potentials of different solutions or approaches and reflect on opportunities resulting therefrom. This process step provides guidance on WHAT to ask WHOM.
It is essential to collect information on the following aspects:
- Which technology options and support services are available/accessible in the specific promotion area?
- Is the environment supportive of large scale promotion of SPIS?
- Does the catchment area provide enough surface and groundwater for short- and long-term irrigation development (see SAFEGUARD WATER)?
- Other important preconditions are suitable soil and climate (e.g. solar irradiance) conditions, access to input/output markets, and infrastructure security.
- What is the level of acceptance of different stakeholders for SPIS technology?
- Is the cost benefit of SPIS in an area better than for alternative technologies?
- What are acceptable ways to disseminate and promote information on SPIS in the target area?
- Are there existing or planned support programs in the target area for SPIS or its components, and are they accessible to producers? An important aspect is the availability of subsidies for particular irrigation purposes. Subsidies may exist for PV-based modernization options, but also for diesel or grid-based electricity, which may have a significant impact on the financial viability.
- What service providers are accessible to producers?
However, it is also very important to provide unbiased information about possible restrictions and risks of SPIS.
- Restrictions are determined by technical (availability of technical solutions and services), environmental (availability of water, solar resource, suitability for specific crops) and economic (access to finances, positive return on investment and market prices, diesel prices, subsidies) factors. Any irrigation system should be designed taking these restrictions into account in order to ensure that an optimum range of operation is achieved.
- Risks mainly arise due to a deviation from the designed operational range and from operation principles. This may result in negative impacts on the environment (excessive water abstraction, over-irrigation) and on the cost-benefit ratio of the production (lack of water causes yield decreases, etc.).
Important: Not every irrigation technology is suitable for all crops and production approaches. Besides technical and agronomic restrictions, the cost-benefit ratio is a vital aspect to consider! In addition, it is important to note that changing an agricultural practice is more than merely an agronomic issue, but has social, gender, economic and environmental repercussions that must be assessed locally.
The analysis of restrictions and risks includes technical, environmental and economic aspects associated with the application of the technology options:
- environmental risks originate from the possibility of over-exploitation of water resources (see SAFEGUARD WATER),
- technical risks originating from operating the system outside the design range may cause increased maintenance, repair and replacement costs,
- risk of theft and vandalism of the installation in a particular area, and
- financial risks related to poor water management (not enough water, or over-irrigation), equipment failures, etc.
The tool PROMOTE and INITIATE – Impact Assessment Tool allows the promoter to identify positive or negative impacts. The promoter should triangulate and compare information from different relevant sources:
- Manufacturers and technology service providers advertise and market their products intensively and outline their advantages and potentials – this information can be easily obtained from suppliers and system integrators, and via the websites of the manufacturers.
- Producer organizations may already have compiled or evaluated experiences of their members with a specific irrigation and pumping systems. They can also link up the promoter with other producers experienced with advanced technologies
- International and national development stakeholders (including NGOs) may already have implemented and evaluated pilot projects based on the technology – this information should be available in sector working groups etc.
Recommendation: When approaching technology providers, producer organizations and development stakeholders for information, always ask for reference projects. A visit to these projects / installations and an information exchange with the operating producer is a worthwhile exercise.
Based on this information, the promoter will be able to establish a profile of the different technologies to be included in the promotion campaign. This profile will have to be specific with regard to:
- possibilities of employing the technology for a specific purpose;
- main benefits for the producer (impacts on irrigation operation, farm labor, crop production, market access, farm budget);
- main requirements and preconditions (water availability in the short and long run, land resources, works, adaptation of crop production and marketing, adaptation of irrigation operation, training needs);
- support mechanisms and offers (private sector service provision, extension and advisory services, promotion and subsidization schemes);
- potential negative impacts on the water table, environment, and socio-economic aspects.
- Agricultural advisor / development practitioner;
- Producer (organizations);
- Wholesalers (purchasing agricultural products);
- Water Resource Management Authorities (management of water rights/licenses);
- Organizations experienced with irrigation and solar pumping;
- Technology provider.
- Triangulation of different information sources with regard to technical, economic and environmental information.
- The availability of a specific technology option may be limited (there may also be sub-regional differences).
- Triangulation (using different information sources) is required to obtain a realistic overview of potentials and opportunities.
- Assess the pros and cons of SPIS in the country, and/or project region, to have a strong knowledge base for the promotion of SPIS.