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Cheap drip irrigation could transform small farms

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Dowser recently caught up with Frykman to learn more about Driptech's technology.

Dowser: What is your geographic focus?
Frykman: We are targeting farmers in India and China first, based on the large number of farmers, the high usage of agricultural water, the low penetration of drip irrigation, and the prevalence of viable distribution channels. There are over 500 million farms of five acres or less around the world, and the majority of them are in India and China.

In India, there are 119 million farming households with plots of land of five acres or less, or 89 percent of all farms in India. Irrigated land represents 34 percent of arable land and permanent crops in India. Drip irrigation penetration in India is only 2 percent of arable land and is concentrated with larger commercial farms. We are initially focusing on farmers who have access to some source of water and are currently irrigating their crops without drip irrigation.

In China, there are about 193 million farms of five acres or less, which account for 95 percent of farms there. About 37 percent of arable land and permanent crops are irrigated there. As of 2007, only 0.4 percent of farmland in China was drip irrigated.

How does your distribution model work?
Driptech focuses on the design and manufacturing of drip-irrigation systems and works with local partners from companies, nonprofits, and governments that currently work with small farmers. Examples include companies that sell fertilizer, seeds, or farm equipment; companies that purchase crops from small farmers; nonprofits doing agricultural extension work; and agricultural and water bureaus in state and local governments.

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