oa Africa Insight - A New Approach to the Planning and Development of Smallholder Irrigation Schemes in Southern Africa

Volume 7, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0256-2804



Smallholder irrigation schemes for blacks should be used as target areas for agricultural development. A number of economic, social and political factors have meant that smallholder irrigation schemes in Southern Africa are unable to achieve their development potential. The experience of Vuvulane Irrigated Farms in Swaziland proves that black smallholder schemes can be successfully developed by the application of an integrated development framework. The framework incorporates three stages of planning, determining first the agricultural potential, and then the economic profitability of the scheme, and finally, establishing the required agricultural infrastructure. The framework aims at providing smallholders with means and motives to achieve commercial production. As the developer provides the full range of required irrigation services, risk attached to commercial production is largely minimized for the smallholder. By adopting a commercial approach in provision of the services, the developer ensures that the equity objectives of both parties are met and active participation of smallholders encouraged.

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