The VIA Story

The Virtual Irrigation Academy Ltd is a registered charity whose principal purpose is to provide relief of disadvantage and/or suffering encountered by small-holder farmers in low-and middle-income countries. We aim to do this through the pursuit of a number of activities related to the provision of technology, equipment and services that assist farmers to grow more food with less water. The VIA started its life in 2016 as a Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) research project that received funding from Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) to undertake a specific research work in Africa. As more people heard about what we were doing, they wanted to give the VIA a try. There was a growing demand for our equipment, but back then most of it was still in a late prototype form.

The unique VIA tools give output as colours that are linked to action, and were enthusiastically embraced by farmers. The demand from farmers for more equipment surprised even the research team. We had to decide to stay as a research project or seize the opportunity.

We decided to scale up and start a beta test program. We wanted to harness the energy and passion of partners to help improve what we were doing. They could provide feedback from the end users and help us iron out all the little problems that accompany scale up.

As a CSIRO research project, the VIA has been incorporated into research and development projects across many countries in Africa Asia and the Pacific in just a few years. We have distributed tens of thousands of Chameleon sensors and Wetting Front Detectors.

CSIRO Scientist, Dr Richard Stirzaker, started the VIA in 2016, funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)

The VIA is much more than monitoring tools. It’s a new way to learn about water. The VIA platform collects data through mobile phones and displays the information as colour patterns on this website. Farmers are finding out they can save water, increase yields and manage water related conflicts in ways we never envisaged at the start.

The site contains more detailed explanations of how it all works, case studies from users, published papers and links to purchase equipment. We are ready and open to partner with anyone who shares our vision of growing more food with less water.

VIA Values

The Virtual Irrigation Academy is committed to make a difference through four key areas.

  1. Water literacy
    Water is the most important resource on our planet. It is also poorly understood and mismanaged. The VIA collects and displays water data in ways that are accurate and easy to understand.
  1. Data systems for change
    The VIA links the interests of farmers, who need to use water efficiently, with those of water user groups and administrators, who need to improve the governance of water. We create tools and data systems that link different knowledge domains through co-learning.
  1. Empowerment of smallholder farmers
    The VIA focusses on smallholder farmers in low to medium income countries who are vulnerable to climate variability and change. We provide transparent M&E metrics that will increase the return on investment for major projects investing in the sector.
  1. Affordable technology
    Ensuring constant development of affordable high-quality equipment and data analytics that can build individual and institutional knowledge, and drive transformational change.

Why Smallholder Farmers?

Watch our short film that articulates why we are committed to working with smallholder farmers.

Where we work

The VIA is currently working in countries primarily in Africa, Asia and Australia.

Contact Us

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