Efficient Irrigation in Nicaragua: iDEal Tecnologias

Nicaragua, one of Central America’s poorest countries, increasingly suffers from droughts and unstable weather conditions, hampering yields and output of smallholder farmers dependent on agriculture for livelihood. While only up to 10% of arable land is irrigated, Nicaragua requires sustainable solutions for the sector to tackle water scarcity, improve production and food security, and reduce GHG emissions from inefficient and poor farming practices.

iDEal offers an energy efficient and affordable technology with additional crop and water management services. Low pressure drip irrigation holds tremendous potential to increase efficiency, reduce water and fertilizer use, extend growing seasons and improve productivity.

 

Background

Nicaragua’s agricultural sector represents 20% of annual GDP and 60% of exports. Among the sector’s most important products are basic grains which are responsible for around 40% of agricultural-derived GDP, and coffee, as well as various fruits and vegetables. Like the livestock sector grain, coffee, fruit and vegetable farms are significantly less productive than farms in neighbouring countries, a situation that represents a significant opportunity for improving the country’s prosperity through technological and market oriented advancements. 

Nicaragua’s government recently announced tax liberation for irrigation systems which will lead to a decrease in price of up to 15%. Backed by the favourable political development, energy efficient water management solutions are an important factor to support the highly underserved smallholder farmers and provide an entry point for developing a clean energy market.

Purpose

Increasing droughts and extended dry seasons are exerting additional stress on farmers throughout the country. In addition, crop management in Nicaragua is typically inefficient, characterised by field flooding and furrow irrigation, and using disproportionate amounts of fertilizers and pesticides. Barriers to energy efficient technology include a lack of financing, as well as a lack of understanding and risk aversion from both farmers and lenders. 

iDEal Tecnologías is addressing these barriers with a combination of a specialised micro drip irrigation system to lower overall cost, a strategy to cultivate a retailer network of technicians who can both sell and conduct after- sales service, and a marketing plan focusing on opening doors for longer term agricultural practice transformation.

 

Main Activities

iDEal’s business model is anchored in raising awareness for the brand and technology among smallholder farmers. iDEal is expanding its retailer network using family-owned businesses, thus providing job opportunities to Nicaragua’s rural population. A key factor for achieving scale is the close cooperation with cooperatives and a marketing plan focusing on opening doors for longer terms agricultural practice transformation. 

Low-pressure drip irrigation holds tremendous potential to increase efficiency, reduce water and fertilizer use, extend growing seasons and improve productivity. By precisely delivering smaller amounts of water directly to plant roots, low-pressure drip irrigation increases output and can extend effective productive seasons.

Clean Energy in the Agrifood Value Chain

Commercial Process Innovation

 

Expected Impact

Low-pressure Efficient Drip Irrigation: Potential Market Impact

iDEal: Direct Impact for Farmers

  • Cost savings in fuel, fertilizers and labour
  • Increase in food production (30%)
  • Decrease of food wastage (10%)
  • Water savings (up to 80%)
  • Attractive payback time - 6 months to 2 years 
  • Agricultural advisory services
Stage of project: 

Ongoing

Location: 

Nicaragua

Implementing agency: 

iDEal Tecnologias

REEEP grant funded by:

Austria