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Guinness Regional Irrigation Project (GRIP)

Northern Nigeria is particularly well suited for irrigated horticulture. The region has a long history of irrigated agricultural production using slow, labor intensive, traditional water lifting methods such as hand dug wells, a rope and bucket, or the Shadouf (a rope and bucket on a counter balance). Unfortunately, during the growing season, not only is available labor for water lifting in short supply but most producers can’t afford the alternative—the high initial investment, maintenance, and operating costs of gasoline powered pumps. Because of these constraints, farmers cultivate very small plots (1000 m2 – 2000 m2) using traditional irrigation methods, and earn correspondingly little money.

There are currently approximately two hundred thousand small farmers in Northern Nigeria that are active in the lucrative irrigated vegetable sub-sector during the dry season when tomatoes, peppers, onions, sugar cane, and other vegetables are grown. For these farmers, increased access to water is critical for achieving higher horticultural yields and expanding production.

Since January of 2005, with initial funding from the Diageo (Guinness) Foundation, EWV/Nigeria has been working to help these farmers by introducing and disseminating low-cost, high capacity, human powered water pumps and by installing hand-drilled tubewells to increase the versatility of the treadle pump.  Over a 15-month period, EWV has already worked through two growing seasons in two adjacent northern states (Kaduna and Katsina) and has helped farmers get water up to seven times faster than they used to and irrigate up to one hectare with a single pump, earning as much as $1500 a year—double the average annual household income.

EWV’s ongoing project in Nigeria has already provided full time employment for more than 600 farmers during the dry season and contributed to a higher standard of living for approximately 6,000 people. Gross revenues earned have surpassed $360,000 for the small farmers participating in the program and approximately $20,000 for the artisans trained to manufacture and distribute the pumps.