Small Scale Irrigation Adviser

Adam Smith International

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Job Description

The Rakhine Winter Crops Project

The Rakhine Winter Crops Project (RWCP) is an ambitious programme to facilitate crop diversification, increased production and improved agricultural water management for the dry season in order to increase farmer incomes, employment and food security. RWCP operates in Thandwe, Taungup and Gwa Townships of Rakhine State, Myanmar. Key aspects of the 5-year NZ$11.5m programme include:

  1. The provision of Good Agriculture Practice training and applied research for farmers to diversify into more productive and profitable winter crops;
  2. The implementation of a home garden program, particularly for landless farmers;
  3. Developing irrigation and water infrastructure to improve winter water management;
  4. Facilitating improvements to market knowledge, market access and access to credit for farmers;
  5. Strengthening the institutional capacity of government extension workers and Community Development Groups

RWCP is funded by the New Zealand government. Adam Smith International is responsible for the delivery of the project in collaboration with the Rakhine State Government, particularly the State Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MoALI).

Project Context

Sandwiched between the Bay of Bengal and the Rakhine Yoma mountain range, Rakhine State is one of Myanmar’s least developed areas. Communities there confront a number of serious challenges, including malnutrition, poverty, conflict, weak infrastructure and susceptibility to extreme weather events. The majority of Rakhine’s population are reliant on subsistence agriculture. More than half of the rural population are landless and dependent on casual labour for employment and income.

The overriding agricultural challenge in Rakhine is low productivity. Rice yields are among the lowest in the country and agricultural production is based on low-technology farming systems. Most rice production customarily relies on a two to three month period of intense rainfall during the monsoon (with four to five metres of rain falling in less than three months), with almost no rainfall outside this period. A significant proportion of the farmed land in Rakhine is also close to sea level and many of the embankments constructed to keep out seawater remain damaged following Cyclone Giri in 2010.

Farmers that do grow a second crop in the dry season, such as vegetables or pulses, often use only a fraction of their available land due to the risks involved, a lack of knowledge or difficulty accessing fresh water. Conversely, farmers who can access fresh water in the dry season generally report higher per acre incomes – some earning more per year from a small area of winter crops than much larger areas of rice paddy.

At the end of 2014 Adam Smith International worked with the Government of New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on a project that first identified and then designed solutions to these challenges. We have subsequently implemented the Rakhine Winter Crop Project (RWCP) since mid-2015.

Assignment objectives

  1. To recommend a small number of appropriate small-scale irrigation solutions to be pilot tested by RWCP in the 2018/19 winter season.
  2. To monitor and evaluate the impact and usability of the piloted systems and recommend which systems should be scaled up in 2019/20.

Scope of work and methodology

The IA is expected to provide a detailed methodology as part of his/her application. However, the following tasks provide some guidance around minimum expectations. Additional tasks and approaches based on the IA’s experience are welcomed. MoALI staff should be involved in these tasks.

  1. Review, including in consultation with RWCP staff and farmers (e.g. via focus groups) small-scale irrigation solutions already provided by the Project against set criteria, including:
    1. Effectiveness, in terms of the ability of the system to provide adequate water to irrigate up to 1 acre of vegetables
    2. Affordability, in terms of the overall cost of the system (including on-going running costs) and the degree to which small scale farmers are likely to be able to afford to purchase
    3. Efficiency, in terms of how efficient the systems are in the usage of water.
    4. Usability, in terms of how easy or hard it is for a small-scale farmer to operate and maintain the system.
    5. Accessibility, in terms of the degree to which a local supply chain exists (or could be developed) for the supply of the system and its components, including the availability of spare parts and servicing.[1]
    6. Environmental impact, including CO2 emissions, depletion of the water resource, flooding of crops.
  2. Based on the IA’s own experience and through a review of relevant literature (e.g. on the impact of different systems) and web-sites, make an assessment of small-scale irrigation systems that have not yet been used by RWCP. Assessment to be made using the same criteria as outlined above. It is expected that the IA assessment will include (but not be limited to):
    1. Human powered pumps (e.g. KickStart International, Proximity Designs)
    2. Low cost solar powered irrigation pumps
    3. Water ponds, including plastic liners and shade netting
  3. Based on (1) and (2) above, make recommendations on a small number (up to three) of systems for the Project to pilot test during the 2018/19 winter season, including (in consultation with the RWCP team) how many of each system to test, at which locations (in order to make a fair comparison) and how to organise procurement.
  4. Through discussions with staff and farmers involved in the pilot testing and through observation of yields, revisit the farms involved in the pilot testing just before winter crop harvesting, and evaluate the pilot systems against the above-mentioned criteria. Recommend which of the systems (may be all) should be scaled up in Year 5.
  5. Produce a final report, outlining the results of this action research.

[1] Consideration will need to be given to any issues, e.g. tariffs, relating to the importation of irrigation equipment


  1. A first stage report (Part 1.3 above) that provides recommendations on which small-scale irrigation systems RWCP should pilot during the 2018/19 winter season (by end September 2018).
  2. Draft report to be submitted to Project team for comment/questions prior to finalization (by end April 2019).
  3. A final, succinct (no more than 30 pages) report that addresses these TOR, with an Executive Summary that is suitable for sharing with MoALI and other development partners to inform them on small-scale irrigation (by end May 2019)


This contract is for up to 35 days, split as follows:

  • Up to 20 days in August/September 2018 including around 10 days field work in Southern Rakhine to review RWCP irrigation systems and 10 days for preparation/methodology and review of other systems.
  • Up to 15 days in March/April 2019, including around 10 days field work in Southern Rakhine to assess piloted systems and 5 days for final reporting.


The assignment is expected to be conducted in two or three stages:

  1. Parts 1.1 to 1.3: August/September 2018 with first stage report due by end of September 2018
  2. Part 1.4 to 1.5: March/April with final report due by end of May 2019.
Required Experience


  1. Demonstrable knowledge and experience of working on impactful, small-scale irrigation solutions for small-scale farmers in developing countries, preferably in South East Asia.
  2. Experience in designing locally-led processes for undertaking low cost, water resource surveys in developing countries]
  3. Excellent report writing and communication skills
  4. Tertiary qualifications in agriculture or other relevant field
  5. Experience of working in rural Myanmar an asset
  6. Ability to converse in Burmese an asset (but not a requirement as the Project will be able to support the consultant where necessary)
  7. Availability to undertake this assignment based on the timings given above.