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November 1st, 2018 / Reuters

The power of irrigation is on full display in this corner of southeastern Kenya, where an 8,000-hectare sugarcane plantation glimmers in an otherwise semi-arid landscape.

Yields at the Kwale sugar plantation are higher than they would be if it relied only on rain, and there is no need to worry about variations in seasonal rainfall, said Pamela Ogada, general manager for Kwale International Sugar Company Ltd., which owns the site.

Across many parts of the world, irrigation has been a “magic bullet” in boosting harvests, said Nuhu Hatibu, the East African head of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which works to improve farming across the continent.

But irrigation is underused in sub-Saharan Africa, where just 7 percent of farmland is irrigated, the lowest proportion of any region of the world, according to the International Water Management Institute.

Now AGRA hopes to focus investment on bringing the technology to small-scale farmers – including those suffering worsening drought as a result of climate change.

The World Bank has pledged to work with the African Development Bank and other organizations to provide up to $9 billion to African governments to improve irrigation, said Steven Schonberger, the World Bank’s global lead for water in agriculture. Read more