Since 1961 more than 40% of the increase in farm food production has been accomplished through increased irrigation. Farmers discovered that by drilling deep wells into the middle of their fields millions of gallons of water could be pumped from underground aquifers – a wonderful substitute for rain, or lack of it.
The results have been marvelous. In fact, the increased use of underground aquifers is considered a revolution in modern farming. Now growers can bring in robust crops even in doughty years. A steady supply of water also makes it easier to coax crops from marginal, sandy soils.
But concern is growing daily about the sustainability of pumping so much groundwater. With the number of farmers applying for irrigation permits skyrocketing, the volume of water being drawn from aquifers has grown astronomically.
One of America’s largest aquifers, the Ogallala Aquifer, is already showing signs of strain. It’s a vast underground cache of water sprawling across an enormous region of underground middle America. Experts believe the Ogallala is possibly 70% depleted. Some wells currently drawing from the Ogallala have already run dry.
That has a lot of people worried. Scientists are concerned that draining underground aquifers may have long-term consequences that are still unknown. Farmers must accept that they can’t keep relying on unlimited groundwater to their farms expanding and profitable.
But once a practice has begun it’s extremely difficult to reverse it, or even slow it down. Farmers now rely on a steady supply of groundwater to being in big crops. Government rules and regulation are always unpopular among farmers.
However, industry observers predict that reality will soon “hit the fan” one way or another. If major groundwater aquifers began to fail farmers will need to change strategies whether they like it or not.
U.S. Feed the Future is committed to ensuring that there is sufficient food across the globe and it has an initiative in Hawaii that is called Appui à la Recherche et au Développement Agricole. The foundation recently offered to support the training of more Haitian extension and research professionals by paying the tuition fees of 20 Haitian graduates to attend the University of Illinois, University of Florida (UF), and Louisiana State University for their master’s degrees in agriculture.
The Haitian students need to learn English before they enroll in the universities. Twelve of them left the country on May 20th to better their English skills before August 2017 when they will be joining the Louisiana State University and the University of Florida. Two Haitian students were sponsored by the organization to join the University of Florida. The units that the masters’ students will be studying include nutrient management, post-harvest technology for essential food crops, control of pests and diseases in sorghum and rice, increasing water use efficiency, and bettering crop productivity by utilizing climate-smart production methods. The remaining six graduates will be enrolling in universities by the end of the coming fall.
One of the U.S. Feed the Future sponsored students will work under the supervision of two Tropical Research and Education Center-based researchers. His primary field of study will be on the main factors that influence banana farming in Montrouis, Arcahaie, and Cabaret. The researchers had a meeting with the chair of MARNDR’s department of plant production and FAMV’s assistant dean for research when they visited Haiti in April 2017. They had extensive discussions about their research undertakings.
The students will interact a lot with the Haitian public and private agriculture sectors during their time in the United States. Their research work will be essential in the ensuring agriculture modernization and offering guidance that can assist farmers in ensuring that there is food security in the country. All the Haitian students will work under the supervision of an agriculture professional from their county until they complete their research.