The Sisili-Kulpawn Basin offers good potential for the development of irrigation and integrated water management for increasing the yield and profitability of crops due to the abundance of land and water resources.The factors influencing the choice of irrigation systems can be broadly categorized as natural (type of soil, slope, climate, quantity of available water) and crop (types of crops to be grown). Additional factors are human (farmer’s previous experience of irrigation) and finance (capital & operational cost).
Main methods of irrigating crops are surface irrigation (Basin and furrow), overhead irrigation (centre pivots, conventional sprinklers), micro irrigation (drip, micro sprinklers) and sub-surface irrigation. Each irrigation method has its advantages and
disadvantages. The main advantage of overhead systems is its suitability for a wide variety of crops and soils (and uneven ground).
In the Sisili-Kulpawn area, irrigation is new and knowledge of it is sparse as there are no existing irrigation schemes nearby. Consequently, the importance of training and skills development in the art of irrigation cannot be overemphasized. Under the Flagship project, there is a strong capacity building component foreseen with collaboration from both local (UDS, SARI, GIDA) and international (Wageningen University) institutions to address the knowledge gap.
Based on preliminary studies carried out with regards to water and soils, a combination of direct pumping and small weir storage coupled with overhead irrigation systems has been proposed for the 400 ha (250 ha Nucleus Farm and 150 ha Smallholder) irrigation project .
A conceptual irrigation design has been developed (AGRICANE, 2013) for the XXL project bringing water from a potential dam site (with a reservoir capacity estimated at 500MCM) located North of the Mole Reserve on the Kulpawn river. To reach the irrigable areas, water will have to be channelled by concrete gravity canal of 30km and distributed into the different irrigation blocks by using pumps. The conceptual design include the following areas under irrigation (combined Nucleus and Out – grower farms):
- 7.410 ha of centre pivot irrigation and 2.885 ha of sprinkler irrigation for sugar cane production
- 5.500 ha of paddy rice fields
- 1.750 ha of supplementary irrigation systems (corn, soya, others)