Higher yields and more income through small-scale irrigation

Programme description

Title: Programme for rural development and productive agriculture: promotion of productive agriculture (PROMAP)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Niger
Lead executing agency: Ministère du Plan, de l’Aménagement du Territoire et du Développement Communautaire
Overall term: 2016 to 2018

The Niger. Wheat and onion cultivation on the southern periphery of the Sahara. © GIZ


Despite adverse conditions, with temperatures of up to 50 degrees Celsius in the shade, low and irregular rainfall and poor, highly erosion-prone soils, most of the inhabitants of the Niger depend on income from rainfed farming. At least 270,000 hectares of arable land could be irrigated to grow vegetables, yet only around 40 per cent of this land is currently being utilised for this purpose.

The development of small-scale irrigation in the Niger is hampered by the fact that smallholder families do not have enough money to invest in the expansion and improvement of irrigated areas. Many of these families do not know how to create an irrigation system, nor do they have access to inputs such as seed, fertiliser and pesticides. Even farmers that do work with small-scale irrigation often employ techniques that are not environmentally sustainable.

Advisory services on small-scale irrigated agriculture are only available to a limited extent. Farms lack knowledge about growing methods, maintenance of irrigation systems and their environmental sustainability, crop rotation, business management and market surveillance. Although more and more farmers are aware of the benefits of small-scale irrigation, they are often in a weak position with regard to securing their land rights. This affects women and young people in particular.

There are hardly any farmers’ associations that collectively manage water usage or organise efficient access to inputs or joint marketing of produce.

At municipal level, sustainable use of natural resources and climate change adaptation issues are usually considered less important than socio-economic infrastructure measures and rarely feature in development plans. This exacerbates the poor coordination of state investments and interventions in the sector.


The economic potential of small-scale irrigation in the Niger’s agricultural sector is exploited.

The Niger. Advisors and farmers discuss trials of potato varieties. © GIZ

The programme advises the Niger’s Ministry of Agriculture on the development and implementation of an appropriate small-scale irrigation policy.

Specific training modules are developed and courses are run for private and public agricultural service providers, enabling them to offer farmers professional advice. The courses cover topics such as soil tillage, crop rotation, selecting the correct seed, fertiliser and pesticides, occupational safety and much more besides. Consultancy services by the ARGE ECO-AFC consortium.

These agricultural service providers can subsequently help interested farmers to develop technical and business aspects of their farms or cooperatives. Direct support is also provided by the project team.

The programme works closely with the investment component provided by KfW Development Bank.

The newly formulated national policy on small-scale irrigation has been adopted and the pertinent action plan was finalised at the end of 2015. This policy framework structures the investments that are required to develop new irrigation areas. At the same time, the irrigation potential of the country’s individual regions is being reassessed in collaboration with other donors. The Government of the Niger was advised by the predecessor project in this respect.

Local land rights commissions are documenting the current situation with regard to land rights. More and more farmers are taking administrative steps to secure their ownership status.

Courses and methods have been devised to train service providers and extension workers on small-scale irrigation. These are gradually being put into practice.

The Niger. Wide range of vegetables available in regional and national markets. © GIZ

More than 30,000 farmers have regular access to advisory services that are tailored to the relevant agri-environmental context. The services are made available by public and private service providers, who cover technical issues relating to cultivation as well as business management and organisation and can adapt their advice to meet individual needs. This leads to higher incomes for the farmers and cultivation of a wider variety of foodstuffs.