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Scope And Limitation Of The Study Environmental Sciences Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Sciences
Wordcount: 2597 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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For a country facing recurrent drought, with severe consequences for development, the need for irrigated agriculture cannot be overlooked. But the country’s capacity to support agriculture through development of irrigation has been weak (Mengistu, 2000). Ethiopia cannot hope to meet its large food deficit through rain-fed agricultural production; the country could still face millions of tons of cereal deficit for decades to come (Desta, 2004).

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The Government of the Republic of Ethiopia in the Ethiopian Water Resources Management Policy (1999) states that Ethiopia endowed with relatively higher amounts of rainfall in the region and has a surface runoff of about 122 billion m3 of water and 28,000 Mm³ ground water. A number of studies made in the field confirm that if the country’s water resources are developed to cater for irrigation, it would be possible to attain agricultural surplus enough both for domestic consumption as well as for external markets. The abundant water resources have earned Ethiopia the name “the water tower of East Africa” (United Nations Development Programme 2006). However, even had this estimated water potential, the country cannot meet its food security.

Although, water resource potential is said to be abundant in Ethiopia, it is clear that even by the low standard of African countries, Ethiopia’s use of its water resources is limited. Cognizant to this fact, the government has taken initiatives towards developing irrigation schemes of various scales (Desta, 2004).The government of Ethiopia as stated in its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), has recognized the importance of water and increased its focus on water resource development and utilization to achieve food security (FDRE, 2000). Irrigation is one means by which agricultural production can be increased to meet the growing food demands in Ethiopia. Irrigation can also stabilize agricultural production.

Ethiopia indeed has significant irrigation potential. Realizing the potential irrigation development can contribute towards food security and improved welfare, the Government has embarked on wide range of water development efforts throughout the country. Since 1950s there are mixed experiences with promoting irrigation and other modern agricultural technologies in the effort of intensification. In the last decade, small-scale irrigation and rainwater harvesting are central to Ethiopia’s new policy and strategy on agricultural and rural development. In some parts of the regions, where there are scarce and erratic rainfall, there is evidence that irrigation has achieved positive impacts: better opportunity for production, better income, reduction of risks, and hence generated benefits for poor rural communities.

The importance of intervening irrigated agriculture in the economy of developing countries results from the fact that rain fed agricultural system is not capable of supplying the desired amount of production to feed the increasing population. Irrigation is not needed for any inadequacy in the total supply of water by rainfall only, but because of the inadequacy of this supply at certain times of the year. This inadequacy of moisture will surely lead to the reduction of plant growth (Briggs and Courtney 1989 as cited by Mintesinot, et.al, 2004). Therefore, Irrigation is used in order to combat periods of moisture stress so as to fulfill the crop moisture requirement and increase the production. Irrigation practice is an expensive one in case of if we construct huge dames or high river diversions, and in many cases can only be applied with profit to high value crops. But it can be cheap for areas having high ground water potential and the water is easily accessible through hand dug wells.

The country has highly-diversified agro-ecological conditions which are suitable for the production of various types of crops. The crops are produced under rain fed and irrigated condition. Cereals dominate Ethiopian agriculture, accounting for about 70 per cent of agricultural GDP (Ethiopia’s Agricultural sector policy and investment framework, 2010-2020). Over the past decade, cereal production has more than doubled to nearly 15 million tons, as a result of horizontal expansion and increased yields (Ethiopia’s Agricultural sector policy and investment framework, 2010-2020). Nevertheless, food security remains a critical issue for many households, and for the country as a whole. Moreover, expansion of the cropped area to more marginal lands has led to severe land degradation in some areas (Ethiopia’s Agricultural sector policy and investment framework, 2010-2020). To alleviate the challenges of food insecurity in the country promotion of irrigated agriculture was given priority (Mekuria, 2003). Thus, hand dug well construction has become one of the activities both by the individuals as well as the government.

Agriculture and rural development has been the central pillar of successive national development and poverty reduction plans and remains so under the new five year growth and transformation plan (FYGTP) announced in August 2010. There is a need, however, to increase development efforts and resources targeting high-potential rain fed areas and irrigation development, in order to accelerate productivity growth, agricultural led industrialization and long-term food security. Thus groundwater has become an important source for irrigation and it has become an integral part of the irrigation strategy “to overcome food scarcity” in many developing countries including in Ethiopia. Such efforts have helped to expand irrigation with time particularly from 1950’s the expansion has been rapidly increasing (Rosegrant et al., 1999). Most agricultural production is used to meet household consumption needs and, for a very large number of households, there is a prolonged hunger season during the pre-harvest period.

In all increasing productivity in smallholder agriculture is Government’s top priority, recognizing the importance of the smallholder sub-sector, the high prevalence of rural poverty and the large productivity gap. Productivity enhancement however, must be complemented by efforts by introducing effective practices towards the farmer to help farmers from purely subsistence farming to semi-subsistence/ semi-commercial status practicing farming as a business and to adopt more sustainable natural resource management practices in order to arrest and reverse environmental degradation. But this may not achieved only by using rain fed agriculture, rather by conjunction use of surface water and ground water without affecting the environment.

Therefore In order to achieve these far-reaching and ambitious objectives, Irrigation development perceived as one of the strategies with the potential for solving this problem and to be food self-sufficient. The government of Ethiopia has an irrigation development strategy, which aims to develop over 470,000 ha of irrigation by 2016 as promulgated in the Water Sector Strategy of 2001. Of this development, 52% will be large and medium scale schemes while the remaining 48% will be small-scale schemes (Government of the Republic of Ethiopia 2001).

Because of the ambitious government plans to expand small scale irrigation in Ethiopia, and in view of increasing demand of water for various purposes like agricultural, domestic, and industries, a greater emphasis is being laid for a planned and optimal utilization of water resources. Even if Ethiopia has high surface water potential, due to uneven distribution of rainfall in both time and space, the surface water resources are unevenly distributed coupled with increasing water user sectors, may lead to conflict among water users, especially agricultural sector. To narrow this gap and increase productivity per drop of water, surface water alone is not the best solution. Considering this issue; giving emphasis on development of ground water resources for those areas having high ground water potential is crucial.

Problem Statement

Water for agriculture is increasingly recognized as a major constraint to improving the lives of the rural poor and is an important component of rural livelihood programs that need to be yet strongly established in Ethiopia. Irrigation has contributed significantly to poverty reduction, food security, and improving the quality of life for rural populations. The majority of existing traditional and modern irrigation schemes are micro level in size. Many of these schemes are based on stream and river diversions but some may be dependent on small dams and perennial springs which show ground water potential for irrigation did not get emphasis. Fogera is one of Blue Nile basin area in Ethiopia and known by flooded plain. The woreda has high ground water potential. Now a day there is irrigation practice in the area for production of vegetables, horticulture (onion, tomato and purple) and in some extent maize. Even if there is such practice in the area, beside high ground water potential almost all farmers are used two perennial rivers called Rib and Gumara as a water source for their irrigation crop production using motorized pump. But the beneficiary farmers are those having farm land near or around streams, while those farmers bounded with these rivers and have not farm land around the stream waiting until the rainy season to cultivate crops.

Recently increasing in number of water users for crop production and other uses; the stream flow become drying the downstream especially starting from February to April. This leads to crop failure and reduction in production plus conflict among the up- stream and downstream water users. To solve this problem and participate in irrigation those farmers have not farm land around the streams and bounded by two streams, conjunction use of ground water and surface water for irrigation crop production is important. However, to assure these identifying opportunities and major constraints of the community that makes passive on ground water uses for irrigation crop production is primary task to the area having high ground water potential.

Researchable Questions

For a specific study of ground water constraints linking with issues of the use for irrigation crop production, a number of questions can be raised. The study tries to address the following major research questions:

What are major constraints of the community to use ground water for irrigation crop production?

Are the communities aware about their ground water potential for crop production?

What types of practices were implemented in the area to promote ground water uses for irrigation crop production by different Governmental and Non-Governmental Organizations?

General and Specific Objectives

In the Fogera plain groundwater is important source that can be used for irrigation crops year around. Reducing dependency on rainfall and stream water for crop production little has known about the potential use of ground water in the area. Rain fed agriculture alone cannot be insuring food self-sufficiency for the country having uneven distribution and erratic rainfall. Rather in addition to rain fed, implementing irrigation schemes according to water source potential weather surface or ground water is important. For those areas having high ground water potential, ground water may serve as a water source for irrigation crop production and increase income. But to use this precious natural resource actively and efficiently tackling obstacles related to ground water use for irrigation crop production is the primary task. This paper will investigate constraints in the Fogera Woreda on ground water uses for irrigation crop production.

In particular it will:-

Identify major constraints why farmers are not used ground water for irrigation crop production. identifying major constraints of the community on ground water use for irrigation crop production, makes easy to decision makers to solve communities problem on ground water irrigation using different approach and makes the community fear to use ground water for irrigation.

Evaluate communities’ awareness about the area ground water potential uses for irrigation crop production. It is important to community to make them self-confident about their natural resource. If they are sure about their resource, they will remove their doubt and cultivate any perennial (chat) or seasonal crop which makes them profitable.

Assessing best practice if there is, to promote ground water use for irrigation crop production in the area by different Governmental and Non-Governmental Organizations. Assessing best practice done in the area on ground water use for irrigation is important for the community to scale up from one kebele to another.

Significance of the Study

Ethiopia has developed a 15-year water development project for the period 2002-2016 in order to enhance the appropriate and comprehensive water use policies. It ensures multiple uses of this vital resource among various users. Among the water sectors agricultural water use has got the most attention through the strategy called Agricultural Development Led Industrialization (ADLI). The intervention of the plan is to address most of the supply-demand gap within 15 years’ time through increasing the number of large, medium and small-scale irrigation schemes. In addition, the Government of Ethiopia (GoE) recognizes, community managed small-scale irrigation water schemes as viable alternative to privatization and state ownership of the resource.

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To see this intervention on stand and to use available water sources; identifying major opportunities and constraints of irrigation water sources is milestone for beneficiaries, thus contributing to increased productivity. Water management policies are also important to avoid and manage conflicts and ensure the participation of low level communities. In this regard, the findings of this study will contribute to narrowing the information gaps regarding the organizational and institutional context, management practices and collective action regarding ground water use for irrigation, and the major problems of ground water irrigation development at the grass-root level. Therefore, the outcome of this study may serve as a source of additional information for policy makers and planners during the design and implementation of irrigation development programs and prospects.

Scope and Limitation of the Study

This study is based on a cross-sectional data for the time period of 2010/2011 aimed at assessing major constraints of ground water use for irrigation crop production in six kebeles of Fogera Woreda, i.e. Nabega, Kideste Hana, Wagetera, Shena, Shaga and Kokit.

The major limitations of the study relates to the unavailability of secondary data needed to supplement the primary data. Secondary data on detailed soil type for each kebele, specific type of training they took on irrigation, yield of previous production seasons, soil type of the area, amount of water they apply to the crop and others were needed. In response to this limitation, we used triangulation data collection method, while we were collecting the data. Due to resource and time limitations, the study had to focus on only a few most important questions.


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