Water-retention technology boosts crop growth in Africa

getting more serious drought Growing food is very difficult in Africa, especially in the drier parts of the continent. But water systems developed in the United States are helping to improve crop yields in drought-affected areas.

The system involves plastic membrane It looks like a transparent cover. When placed in the ground, they prevent the loss of moisture and other healthy substances from the soil.

So far, the technology has been tested in Zimbabwe and Kenya and has performed well.

In the village of Ulilinzi in southeastern Kenya, the sandy soil makes mass production of crops almost impossible. Drought exacerbated the problem.But new water reserve Technology has brought new hope to farmers here.

Alvin Smucker is a professor of soil biophysics at Michigan State University. He developed the water system.

“We’ve got a lot of government funding and millions of dollars to put all these systems together and then test them in Texas, Arizona, California and Michigan,” he said.

“It’s not something we just put a little container in our backyard — my backyard — and now we say it’s the best in the world. It’s been tested,” he said.

Shem Kuyah is a researcher at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. He is one of the scientists leading testing of the technology in Kenya. The membranes were tested on farms growing cowpea and corn, he said.

“We realize the farms we have Installed These membranes are more productive,” he said.

Florence Mutisya is a farmer there. She has already tried the technique on her farm.

“I saw benefit‘ she said. ‘And I can say the technology is working well because right now, I get [a] Good harvest. “

Anne Mutunga, a farmer in Ulilinzi, agrees.

“The technology is very good,” she said, adding, “We have vegetables that you won’t find anywhere else here.”

Sylvia Nyawira is a researcher at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture, one of the organizations leading the testing in sub-Saharan regions. Retention techniques can help crops grow over a long period of time, she said.

“If farmers continue to keep their crops the remains In the soil … organic matter builds up,” she said. “So even in the next five years, Yield We’ve seen this in plots that have the technology, and it’s expected to be much higher. “

In addition to boosting crop yields, the technology could also help reduce the impact of climate change, experts say.

“If you increase productivity, crops can take carbon from the atmosphere and fix it in biomassKuya said. “You can lock it in the dirt.”

However, new water retention technologies are costly and require a lot of labor. The cost of purchasing membrane to cover one hectare of land can be as high as $2,000.

I’m Katie Weaver.

Juma Majanga reported this story for VOA. Dan Novak adapted it to VOA Learning English.


word in this story

drought — n. prolonged dry weather

membrane — n. A thin, soft, flexible sheet or layer, especially of plant or animal parts (such as cells, tissues, or organs)

reserve — n. reserved behavior : possess or use

benefit — n. something that is good for someone or something

the remains — n. Anything left after parts are taken out, separated or lost or after a process has been completed

yield — n. Quantity or quantity produced or returned

biomass — n. Plant material and animal waste especially used as a fuel source

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