Assessing technology and socioeconomic constraints and prospects of low-cost drip irrigation for vegetable farming in Southeast Asia
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Farmers’ enthusiasm in using low-cost drip irrigation as seen at many on-farm research and demonstration sites across Southeast Asia clearly indicates a high potential of the technology to smallholding vegetable growers. Despite supports from several development agencies (NGOs and government agencies), a wide-scale farmer-to-farmer dissemination of this technology has not yet been occurred in the region. Farmers have not invested their own resources in low-cost drip irrigation kits that cost less than USD100 for irrigating a 200-300-m2 cropland, with potential profits of more than USD200 within a crop season. Recently, questions have been raised on the effectiveness and sustainability of this technology. We have analyzed the constraints and prospects of the drip kits by reviewing and evaluating results from several on farm research trials across the four countries in Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, and Vietnam). This was supplemented by information compiled from farmers’ group level survey. Majority of the farmers surveyed reported saving on labor, water resources, and convenience in irrigating crops as main benefits under the drip systems. Nevertheless, farmers’ adoption behavior towards the technology varies greatly across the study sites/countries. Some of the reasons for farmers’ reluctant to invest on the technology are high initial investment costs, lack of local suppliers, inadequate input markets of the drip kits (inadequate local level business services to support the maintenances and services), farmers lack of understanding and basic know-how on using the drip kits, absence of rural credit systems, and poor targeting of clients/locations by the projects disseminating the technology. In fact, in many places, presence of a ‘high subsidy-syndrome’, that is, free kit distribution system adopted by many development projects, also has provided disincentives to farmers for investing on the technology using their sources of fund. Suggestions and recommendations are provided to encourage wider adoption of the drip technology for improving livelihoods of the smallholding farmers in Southeast Asia.
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Palada, M. C. and Bhattarai, M. (2013). Assessing technology and socioeconomic constraints and prospects of low-cost drip irrigation for vegetable farming in Southeast Asia . In Holmer, R. , Linwattana, G. , Nath, P. , & Keatinge, J. D. H. (Eds.), Proceedings of the Regional Symposium on High Value Vegetables in Southeast Asia: Production, Supply and Demand (SEAVEG2012), 24-26 January 2012, Chiang Mai, Thailand (pp. 154-167). Tainan, Taiwan: AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center.
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