Mechanized Raised Bed Technology for better wheat
Across the globe, populations grow and consume ever-more water, while rainfall levels diminish due to intensifying climate change. Rural communities in dry areas such as the MENA region, are especially vulnerable so addressing water scarcity is a priority issue.
To build livelihoods resilience, ICARDA and national partners in Egypt and Sudan, along with financial support from AFESD have developed a unique community-based innovative package. The mechanized raised bed technology (MRB) is adapted to dryland conditions and improves water use efficiency, improving farmers livelihoods, through increased farm productivity with less inputs. Conventional irrigated agriculture usually involves flood irrigation in flat land or furrow irrigation which often results in uneven water distribution in the field, saturating some crops, leaving others too dry, and wasting valuable water resources. MRB machines are attached to standard farm tractors, and quickly and easily create raised soil beds, on which they simultaneously sow crops, while creating adequate furrows along which optimum water easily travels, vastly increasing water efficiency.
The technology has transformed irrigated wheat-based producing systems across Egypt, Sudan and beyond, achieving significantly higher crop yields of 20-30% while ensuring 25% savings in irrigation water and reducing farming costs by about 20%. Scaling-out activities have led to substantial increases in the wheat area cultivated by MRB throughout Egypt with production expected to increase from 8 million tons in 2017 to over 14 million tons by 2025. This could result in total irrigation water saving of more than 1.5 billion m3/year by 2025 benefitting an additional 200,000 ha
ICARDA’s unique R4D model differs from other global MRB in its close development partnership with NARS and the farming communities it targets so a machine suitable for real-world agro-ecosystems is developed. ICARDA also delivers an integrated approach of inputs, demonstrations, and training field days, involving stakeholders in decision-making. Policies in Egypt, Sudan and Nigeria have also enabled a suitable environment for the adoption of the MRB technology. Numerous agreements and funding have been deployed to out-scale the MRB outside of Egypt through donors such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the EU, and FAO among many others.