Drip irrigation technologies are conserving resources and improving farmer resilience in eastern Zimbabwe through an initiative by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), an implementing partner under the Program for Growth and Resilience (PROGRESS) consortium, managed by the Zimbabwe Resilience Building Fund (ZRBF).

Zimbabwe’s eastern highland districts like Nyanga are renowned for their diverse and abundant fresh produce. Farming families grow a variety of crops — potatoes, sugar beans, onions, tomatoes, leafy vegetables and garlic — all year round for income generation and food security.

Long poly-pipes lining the district — some stretching for more than 10 kilometers — use gravity to transport water from the mountains down to the villages and gardens. However, in the last five-to-ten years, increasing climate-induced water shortages, prolonged dry spells and high temperatures have depleted water reserves.

Traditionally, flood, drag hose, bucket and sprinkler systems have been used as the main irrigation methods. However, according to Raymond Nazare, an engineer from the University of Zimbabwe, these traditional irrigation designs “waste water, are laborious, require the services of young able-bodied workers and use up a lot of time on the part of the farmers.”

The drip technology is also helping farmers in Nyanga adapt to climate change by providing efficient water use, accurate control over water application, minimizing water wastage and making every drop count.