Water scarcity in agriculture is a key issue for MENA countries and is associated with difficulties in pumping energy availability. For this reason, the project aimed to encourage the adoption of ultra-low energy (ULE) drip irrigation systems with a conversion of hundreds of hectares from surface to drip irrigation across different regions.

Period of Implementation

Sep 20, 2016 - Sep 28, 2024
Total Budget

USD 662,324.00



Improvement of sustainable, long-term access to water for people living in MENA countries. This will enhance food security by increasing irrigated agriculture productivity and the efficient use of water resources.


The objective of this project is to design and field validate ultra-low pressure drip irrigation systems for the MENA region that will cut pumping energy by 50% (for electric or diesel pumps), enable drip systems to run on low-pressure municipal water supplies, and facilitate the dissemination of low-cost, solar-powered drip irrigation solutions. New designs for on-line drip emitters and in-line drip emitters will be developed.

Problems and Needs Analysis

A major barrier to disseminating drip irrigation throughout the MENA region is the lack of electrical grid power to pump water. While subsidized operations may be effective on a limited scale, off-grid, solar-powered drip systems remain too expensive for most MENA farmers, costing approximately $3,000/acre. However, if not well designed, also the drip irrigation system can't ensure the expected level of uniformity and efficiency in water distribution. The causes of inefficient irrigation networks and low uniformity of irrigation water distribution are primarily attributed to: 1) the municipal water supply does not provide enough pressure for the drippers to reach their correct operating flow rate, and farmers cannot afford to purchase larger pumps to boost pressure; 2) there is a lack of standardized, high-quality drip irrigation fittings, and those available often leak when subjected to high pressures 3) many farmers lack the knowledge to design drip irrigation networks properly and operate their systems on whatever pressure they have available, rather than the pressure required to achieve uniform water distribution.

Intervention Strategy(ies)

Initially, ICARDA will aid the MIT team in understanding the specific regional contexts of running drip irrigation systems in Morocco. They will also identify the farms in Morocco that will take part in both pilot phases, selecting 2-3 farms per geographic area. The Phase-1 pilot will focus on Moroccan farmers growing olive and citrus trees who would be good candidates for drip irrigation under the Green Morocco Plan. The Moroccan farmers will be chosen from the Beni Mellal and Marrakech regions, as well as from the Zaer region, where ICARDA has an experimental station in Merchouch. ICARDA will choose the Phase-2 pilot farms in Morocco from Doukkala (El Jadida region), Gharb (Kenitra region), and Sais (Fes region). The Beni Mellal and Marrakech regions will also host pilots, as they are particularly well suited for solar-powered drip systems. In Morocco, a cluster of 30 farmers will be built around each pilot farm testing solar-powered drip irrigation.

Impact Pathway

Research activities are oriented around the adoption of ultra-low pressure drip irrigation systems that cut pumping energy by 50% in the MENA region. ICARDA staff will oversee installation of the drip systems and data acquisition instrumentation on farms in Morocco and Jordan where pilot tests will be held. ICARDA will also provide training on the use and maintenance of the equipment to participating farmers and regularly meet with them to collect qualitative data about the drip technology. These frequent visits will enable staff to spot any problems before they are detected by the data recorders and enable them to address issues with the drip systems on site as appropriate.

Following pilot tests, ICARDA will conduct a comprehensive survey with each farmer to understand their experience with the technology, their views on its efficacy, and identify user-centered factors. The intention is to convert hundreds of hectares to drip irrigation for improved natural resource management and agricultural productivity which, in turn, will enhance the food security situation with positive consequences in the reduction of land abandonment and migration from rural areas to the cities.


In 2020, successful ULE drip irrigation trials on olive and citrus trees and fruits and vegetables were completed. In the same year, a public-private research partnership with Jain Irrigation Systems Limited led to the successful testing of ULE drippers (ULED) for irrigating date palm plantations in six Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

In 2021, within the framework of the Arabian Peninsula Regional Program, ICARDA distributed 10,000 ULED to six APRP member countries to foster desert farming. Also in 2021, during the 5th African Regional Conference, ICARDA hosted the first African Young Professional Workshop where they, with project partners, presented the challenges of drylands water scarcity and how to address them. A key activity was a field visit to project site on the outskirts of Marrakech in Morocco, which was attended by 70 young professionals from 30 different countries. The workshop showcased the multi-season field tests of ULE drip irrigation emitters.

During 2021 and 2022, ULED have been compared to conventional irrigation systems such as the ‘bubbler’ in UAE, Kuwait and Qatar, with the technology proving highly efficient in water use with minimal energy consumption.

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Creating a Solar-Powered Drip Irrigation Optimal Performance model (SDrOP) to lower the cost of drip irrigation systems for smallholder farmers

Author(s): Fiona Grant | Carolyn Sheline | Julia Sokol | Susan Amrose | Elizabeth Brownell | Vinay Nangia | Amos . G Winter

Date: 2022-07-08 | Type: Journal Article

Comparative study of the hydraulic, energy and agronomic performances of conventional and low pressure drip irrigation on citrus

Author(s): Bassou Bouazzama | Rachid Moussadek | Vinay Nangia | Julia Sokol | Susan Amrose | Elisabeth BROWNELL | Amos . G Winter

Date: 2020-12-30 | Type: Journal Article

Validatio of an Aanalytacl Model to lower the cost of solar-powered drip irrigation systems for smallholder farmers in the MENA region

Author(s): Fiona Grant | Carolyn Sheline | Susan Amrose | Elizabeth Brownell | Vinay Nangia | Samer Talozi | Amos . G Winter

Date: 2020-05-19 | Type: Conference Paper

Energy Reduction and Uniformity of Low-Pressure Online Drip Irrigation Emitters in Field Tests

Author(s): Julia Sokol | Susan Amrose | Vinay Nangia | Samer Talozi | Elizabeth Brownell | Gianni Montanaro | Khaled Abu Naser | Khalil Bany Mustafa | Abdeljabar Bahri | Bassou Bouazzama | Abdelaziz Bouizgaren | Naem Mazahrih | Rachid Moussadek | Lhassane Sikaoui | Amos . G Winter

Date: 2019-06-07 | Type: Journal Article

Farmer field day: Using drip irrigation

Author(s): Vinay Nangia | Anas Mansouri

Date: 2018-05-16 | Type: Video

Ultra-Low Energy Drip Irrigation for MENA Countries Drip Irrigation in Morocco

Author(s): Vinay Nangia | Rachid Moussadek | Gianni Montanaro

Date: 2017-04-10 | Type: Report - Sub-type(s): Internal Report