|Optimising what can be achieved with scarce water supplies is a challenge that confronts many African farmers living in climates where rainfall is extremely limited.|
In the parched and dry farmlands around Bora District in Ethiopia, Self Help has piloted a project, whereby local farmers have started using terracotta pots to water fruit trees on their farms.
The earthen pots are made locally, and are individually placed in the ground beside each of the mango, papaya and cirtus trees on the farms.
They are filled on a regular basis from watering cans, and allow water to seep slowly through the porous terracotta vessels into the soil - to provide necessary water for the roots of each tree.
Nabee Gebaba, who also uses drip irrigation systems to water vegetable crops on his farm, has found the jars to be a highly effective and simple way to get water to his trees.
'You just need to fill the jars every few days, and although you lose some of the water to evaporation, because the vessels are situated in the shade of each tree, most of the water just seeps out and nourishes the roots', he says.
Nabee Gebaba planted more than 30 fruit tree seedlings a few years ago, and has found that they have flourished under this pot irrigation system. 'It is the only source of water that they get, but for the amount of labour and water required, it has made it worthwhile for me to have fruit trees, alongside my other crops', he added.
The local farmer says that there is a good local market for sale of the surplus fruit that he is now producing.