Posts in water harvesting
South African workshop a big success for participants and Limpopo Department of Agriculture!

A week long workshop held in Polokwane and Thohoyandou, South Africa, last month has increased the communication and extension skills of the participants and helped the Limpopo Department of Agriculture re-focus some of their programs being delivered to their small holder farmers.

This was the final component of the University of New England’s delivery of the 2013 Australia Awards Africa Fellowship training for African Agriculturists in Water Harvesting & Small Scale Irrigation. The training consists of a five week training period in Australia followed by the one week training workshop in South Africa. There were a total of 27 participants from 14 countries across Africa. The participants came in two separate groups for the 5 week training in Australia while all participants attended the one week workshop in South Africa.Analysis of the field visits

The workshop aimed to expose the participants to a wide range of principles and examples of water use systems in small scale agriculture. The intention was to stimulate new ideas and cross-learning that will help participants identify planning and extension techniques and relevant technology that can be used in their country to enable a higher rate of adoption.

As part of the workshop we visited three communities and an independent farmer in the Vhembe district to see first hand the challenges and successes in improving food security and income for their families.

Chairman of the Palmary vill irrigation scheme sharing their successes and challenges with the participantsThe group looking at maize under a 'high tech' "floppy" irrigation scheme at Mbahela Cooperative. One participant identified Maize Lethal Necrosis in the crop. A new disease for South Africa.

The team in South Africa was made up of Joe Ramaru and Oliver Gundani from PICOTEAM Southern Africa, Peter Fitzgerald, University of New England, and myself.

A huge thank you goes out to Freddy Mudzielwana and his troops from the Limpopo Department of Agriculture for being so open and helpful, the communities of Palmary vill, Mbahela and Tshikonelo, along with independent farmer Elijah Mphaphuli for sharing their knowledge and experiences with us in such an generous way.

Tshikonelo farmer discusses how she harvests rainwater for growing vegetables during the dry winter months.

Second AusAID Small scale Irrigation and water harvesting course for 2013 at the University of New England comes to an end

Friday 15 November saw the end of the second short course for African participants on small scale irrigation and water harvesting at the University of New England, Armidale.

Lecturer Isa Yunusa encourages the group to strive for great thingsThe five weeks of activities culminated in a great dinner and presentation of certificates at the beautiful Moore Park Inn. There were mixed emotions as the night progressed. Our friends were keen to get home to see their families and get back to their normal lives yet felt they would miss the companionship that has grown during their stay.

Proud participants following presentation of certificates with Peter Fitzgerald (mother), Andrew Storrie and Kathy Dobos

Their training is not complete however. They have action plans developed and refined during the course which they will begin to implement when they arrive home.

In February 2014 we will meet both groups from this year in South Africa where we will refine their projects and study successes and problems encountered by small landholders in the Limpopo Province.

In western NSW training African friends on water harvesting and water spreading

I am very lucky to have such a diverse job.

Last week my colleague Peter Fitzgerald from the University of New England and I were tour guide, bus driver, trainer and very much everything in-between with 15 African agriculturalists from 11 different countries. We visited Gunnedah, Dubbo, Narromine and Nyngan as a major part of our second 2013 “Irrigation and small scale water harvesting course” based at the University of New England and funded by AusAID.

Orchardist Warren Yeomans discussing how he uses tensiometers to determine when to irrigateTo date the participants have spent a week on each of the following:

  • refining extension techniquesand project planning
  • dam building with the Soil Conservation Service
  • irrigation systems with Lew Hyson and Isa Yunusa (UNE)
  • field tour of irrigation, water spreading and water ponding

The field tour is a highlight as our friends get to meet a range of Australian farmers with a range of management styles and ‘drivers’ as well as getting practical training on establishing water spreading banks and water ponding at Nyngan with Ray Thompson, Local Land Services.

Course participants marking out water-spreading banks north of NynganOur final week together is spent in revision and fine tuning their projects they will implement when they return home.  They also get to present their projects to us which helps develop their presentation skills.

A sad farewell to the gateway to the Outback