SWFF Team Conducts Field Visits in India

In an era of global water shortages, Securing Water For Food (SWFF) seeks to improve water use to feed the world. In January, the SWFF team conducted field visits in India, complete with an HD video camera crew.

Dr. Ku McMahan, SWFF Team Lead; Steve Simon, M&E Specialist; Rami Khyami, Grants Manager; and the communication team visited four innovators in agricultural areas near Mumbai, Hyderabad, Aurangabad, and Madurai.

In Gujarat, Bart de Jonge, CEO of SiI Technologies and Ashok Gokani, India Director for SiI Technologies had arranged a farmer cooperative meeting to introduce NewSil. Over 150 farmers attended to learn about NewSil, stabilized silicic acid, which optimizes plant growth in stressful conditions by improving plant metabolism, and providing a protective coating on plants which results in more food output utilizing less water. Applying silicic acid to food crops is an affordable and environmentally friendly method.

The team saw various test fields with treated and control crops, including watermelon, lentils, and greenhouse orchids. The plants treated with NewSil showed much-improved yield.

In an era of global water shortages, Securing Water For Food (SWFF) seeks to improve water use to feed the world.

Adaptive Symbiotic Technologies – Aurangabad, India

US-based SWFF innovator Adaptive Symbiotic Technologies also conducts field tests in India. The team met with Dr. Anup Karwa, Director SFPL Crop Life Sciences, outside of Aurangabad. Dr. Karwa partnered with Adaptive Symbiotic Technologies to develop a library of microbes that will reduce water consumption, increase drought tolerance, and enhance crop yields with no negative impact when applied to seeds.

Adaptive Symbiotic Technologies first discovered a fungus found in stressful growth conditions in Yellowstone National Park. They have since developed BioEnsureⓇ—a natural microbial inoculate to manipulate symbiotic microorganisms to help plants adapt to water-related stress.

Indian field tests show promise in wheat crops, with more robust root systems in treated vs control fields.

Center for Environment Concerns – Hyderabad, India

The SWFF team also visited the Center for Environment Concerns in Hyderabad to see System of Water for Agricultural Rejuvenation (SWAR) in action. SWAR hopes to adapt drip irrigation to an ancient method of burying clay pots near plants so the water moistens the soil at the root level. An elevated water tank feeds the clay pots, using gravity to distribute water via tubing connected to the buried pots. Ideal for small plot farming, the SWAR system reduces the amount of water needed to grow produce and preserves nourishing microbes in the soil.

MyRain – Madurai, India

In India, 41 million small-plot farmers rely on flood irrigation, a method that stunts crops and washes away valuable soil nutrients. Drip irrigation often increases the efficiency of water and fertilizer compared to flood irrigation. But drip irrigation is only a fraction of the way to actually providing a solution until a supply chain is established to get an innovation to the small plot farmers of India. Due to weak distribution chains and product complexity, drip technology has proliferated to only 5 percent of these farmers.

That’s where MyRain comes in. The SWFF team met the MyRain staff in Madurai and ventured out to see retailers, many of them small roadside stands, selling MyRain irrigation products. In addition to selling affordable irrigation hardware, MyRain offers a design tool app called Rainmaker.

Since most farmers in India have cell phone access, the Rainmaker app gives farmers a customized irrigation system design and installation tool for small agro-retailers across India.

The SWFF team plans to visit innovators in East Africa in March and South Africa in May and Southeast Asia in the fall.

Learn more about SWFF and it’s innovators here.