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Why has small-scale irrigation not responded to expectations with traditional subsistence farmers along the Senegal River in Mauritania?

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  • Comas, Jordi
  • Connor, David
  • Isselmou, Mohamed El Moctar
  • Mateos, Luciano
  • Gómez-Macpherson, Helena

Abstract

The objective of this paper is to evaluate why small-scale farmers do not persist with irrigation along the Senegal River Valley of Mauritania. Surveys of all households of 12 villages that combine traditional agriculture with irrigated rice production collected information on workload, inputs and productivity of cropping systems together with food requirement and costs in local markets. Analyses revealed that, at the scale of farming attempted, there is no shortage of labor within most households when irrigated rice is combined with traditional rain fall cropping in the wet season and flood-recession crops in the cold, dry season. There is, however, a major limitation to successful combination in the generally negative return of rice production to labor and inputs. While input costs for traditional systems are very small, real costs of rice production (4000kg paddy/ha) exceed returns in most cases. Farmers only persist with irrigation for as long as the infrastructure functions with minimum maintenance. This explains the observed gradual abandonment of many irrigation schemes unless additional investment is available to repay initial loans and renew infrastructure. While operational, the schemes do add significantly to food security in the villages and offer paid labor to landless residents. Greater yields of rice, greater irrigation water-use efficiency through improved irrigation management, crops that demand less water and more intensive use of irrigated land are options to increase return to inputs. Success here would remove the food contribution from traditional agriculture currently required to sustain irrigated rice production, and establish a continuing and profitable contribution from irrigated agriculture.

Suggested Citation

  • Comas, Jordi & Connor, David & Isselmou, Mohamed El Moctar & Mateos, Luciano & Gómez-Macpherson, Helena, 2012. "Why has small-scale irrigation not responded to expectations with traditional subsistence farmers along the Senegal River in Mauritania?," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 152-161.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:110:y:2012:i:c:p:152-161 DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2012.04.002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Aravind Moorthy & Thomas Coen & Katie Naeve & Jeremy Brecher-Haimson & Sarah Hughes, "undated". "Evaluation of the Irrigation and Water Resource Management Project in Senegal: Design Report," Mathematica Policy Research Reports c9f29d5746b14250b145a2030, Mathematica Policy Research.
    2. García-Ponce, E. & Gómez-Macpherson, H. & Diallo, O. & Djibril, M. & Baba, C. & Porcel, O. & Mathieu, B. & Comas, J. & Mateos, L. & Connor, D.J., 2013. "Contribution of sorghum to productivity of small-holder irrigation schemes: On-farm research in the Senegal River Valley, Mauritania," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, pages 72-82.
    3. Borgia, Cecilia & García-Bolaños, Mariana & Li, Tao & Gómez-Macpherson, Helena & Comas, Jordi & Connor, David & Mateos, Luciano, 2013. "Benchmarking for performance assessment of small and large irrigation schemes along the Senegal Valley in Mauritania," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 19-26.
    4. Elodie Blanc & Aurelia Lepine & Eric Strobl, 2014. "Determinants of crop yield and profit of family farms: Evidence from the Senegal River Valley," Working Papers 2014-596, Department of Research, Ipag Business School.
    5. Qin Tu & Hong Li & Xinkun Wang & Chao Chen & Yin Luo & Frank Dwomoh, 2014. "Multi-Criteria Evaluation of Small-Scale Sprinkler Irrigation Systems Using Grey Relational Analysis," Water Resources Management: An International Journal, Published for the European Water Resources Association (EWRA), Springer;European Water Resources Association (EWRA), vol. 28(13), pages 4665-4684, October.
    6. Takeshi, Sakurai, 2015. "On the Determinants of High Productivity Rice Farming in Irrigated Areas in Senegal: The Efficiency of Large Compared with Small-Scale Irrigation Schemes," Working Papers 105, JICA Research Institute.

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