The report outlines the potential role of modern irrigation methods against the background of increasing water scarcity and continuing food shortages, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa. While it acknowledges the potential technical benefits derived from modern technologies it cautions against any approach that fails to take account of the economic, social and institutional constraints faced by many smallholders.
The range of modern irrigation technologies are reviewed and classified and the technical characteristics making them more or less suited for use by smallholder irrigators are set out in detail.
The report then reviews the experiences of smallholders with modern irrigation technologies in a range of economic and ago-ecological conditions and summarises the conditions faced by smallholders that determine their willingness to adopt and maintain modern irrigation technologies.
A series of conclusions are set out regarding the types of equipment that are likely to be appropriate and the wider economic, social and policy issues that must be addressed before smallholders are likely to exploit the potential benefits of modern technologies.
An extensive bibliography on the theme of modern irrigation methods and their adoption by smallholder farmers is provided at the end of the report.