African farmers are faced with a myriad of challenges. Most notably, it is difficult for these farmers to maintain good yields in the face of limited and erratic water supply. As such, the aim of the EAU4FOOD project is to design, test and disseminate new and effective soil and water management strategies. This will allow African farmers to increase food production, maximise soil fertility and sustainable irrigation water use, and minimise the pollution of fresh water reserves. Five study sites across Africa have been established to provide a baseline of usable data. Following this, EAU4FOOD provided a framework for guiding the extension of irrigated agriculture under water scarcity conditions. Field innovation trials in Giyani, South Africa, are comparing water use and yields for tomatoes at two cooperative farms. Now in their second season, researchers plan to gradually introduce improved agronomic practices every season in order to increase yields. Researchers have collated and optimised a number of modelling tools to predict the impacts of EAU4FOOD interventions and maximise crop yields. In addition, a new life-cycle assessment has been developed specifically for African agricultural areas. The eventual outcomes of EAU4FOOD will be included in support tables and guidelines for different user groups. This knowledge is expected to provide local innovations in irrigation, as well as a method to assess the potential implementation of the innovations. Ultimately, the EAU4FOOD initiative will help to increase local water productivity and harvest security, providing a concrete way forward for sustainable development in Africa.
Agricultural productivity, Africa, farming, food production, irrigation