Volume 36, Issue sup1 (2020)

Sup1 (2020) Special Issue on Transforming Small-Scale Irrigation in Southern Africa


Article

Transforming failing smallholder irrigation schemes in Africa: a theory of change

Jamie Pittocka, Henning Bjornlundb, and André van Rooyenc

aFenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University, Acton, ACT; bSchool of Commerce, University of South Australia, Adelaide; cInternational Crops Research Institute for the Semi-arid, Tropics, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Contact: Jamie Pittock | Email: jamie.pittock@anu.edu.au

Abstract

Drawing on the results of the Transforming Irrigation in Southern Africa project, we assess positive transitions in smallholder irrigation schemes. The project’s theory of change is evaluated. Soil monitoring tools and agricultural innovation platforms were introduced in five irrigation schemes in Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. The synergies between these interventions increased both crop yields and profitability. This empowered farmers, improved equity, and accelerated social learning and innovation. The resulting, iterative cycles of change improved governance, sustainability and socio-economic outcomes. The challenges of scaling these interventions up and out are outlined.

Pages: S1-S19


Article

Why agricultural production in sub-Saharan Africa remains low compared to the rest of the world – a historical perspective

Vibeke Bjornlunda, Henning Bjornlunda and Andre F. Van Rooyenb

aSchool of Commerce, University of South Australia, Adelaide; bInternational Crops Research Institute for the Semi-arid Tropics, Matopos Research Station, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Contact: Henning Bjornlund | Email: Henning.Bjornlund@unisa.edu.au

Abstract

Agricultural production in sub-Saharan Africa has, in recent times, remained lower than the rest of the world. Many attribute this to factors inherent to Africa and its people, such as climate, soil quality, slavery and disease. This article traces the role of agriculture through history and argues that these are not the main reasons. Before the arrival of European traders, complex agricultural systems existed, which supported food security, manufacturing and trade. External interference manipulated these systems in pursuit of export crops. Independence has not fundamentally changed this; resource and wealth extraction continue to inhibit economic development for Africans in Africa.

Pages: S20-S53


Article

Exploring the factors causing the poor performance of most irrigation schemes in post-independence sub-Saharan Africa

Vibeke Bjornlunda, Henning Bjornlunda and André F. van Rooyenb

aUniSA Business School, University of South Australia, Adelaide; bInternational Crops Research Institute for the Semi-arid Tropics, Matopos Research Station, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Contact: Henning Bjornlund | Email: Henning.Bjornlund@unisa.edu.au

Abstract

This article explores the factors causing the current poor performance of most government irrigation schemes in sub-Saharan Africa. The literature review finds that the poor performance is not primarily caused by socioeconomic and biophysical conditions inherent to sub-Saharan Africa. African farmers have adapted to diverse biophysical conditions and expanded or contracted their area under agricultural water management in response to market signals. Rather, this poor performance is predominantly linked to the production systems introduced during colonialism and developments since independence, such as agricultural policies restraining rural economic development, unsuitable irrigation technologies and agricultural practices, and international lending practices and trade arrangements.

Pages: S54–S101


Article

The dynamics between irrigation frequency and soil nutrient management: transitioning smallholder irrigation towards more profitable and sustainable systems in Zimbabwe

Martin Moyoa, André Van Rooyena, Henning Bjornlundb, Karen Parryb, Richard Stirzakerc, Thabani Dubea and Mthulisi Mayaa

aMatopos Research Station, International Crop Research Institute for Semi-arid Tropics, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe; bSchool of Commerce, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia; cCSIRO Agriculture, Canberra, Australia

Contact: Martin Moyo | Email: M.Moyo@cgiar.org

Abstract

Successful irrigated agriculture is underpinned by answering two critical questions: when and how much to irrigate. This article quantifies the role of the Chameleon and the Wetting Front Detector, monitoring tools facilitating decision-making and learning about soilwater-nutrient dynamics. Farmers retained nutrients in the root zone by reducing irrigation frequency, number of siphons, and event duration. Water productivity increased by more than 100% for farmers both with and without monitoring tools. Transitioning smallholder irrigation systems into profitable and sustainable schemes requires investment in technology, farmers and institutions. Importantly, technologies need embedding in a learning environment that fosters critical feedback mechanisms, such as market constraints.

Pages: S102–S126


Article

Do agricultural innovation platforms and soil moisture and nutrient monitoring tools improve the production and livelihood of smallholder irrigators in Mozambique?

M. Chilundoa, W. de Sousab, E. W. Christenc, J. Faducob, H. Bjornlundd, E. Cheveiab, P. Munguambeb, F. Jorgea, R. Stirzakere and A. F. van Rooyenf

aFaculty of Agronomy and Forestry Engineering, Department of Rural Engineering, Eduardo Mondlane University, Maputo, Mozambique; bInstituto Nacional de Irrigação, Ministério da Agricultura e Desenvolvimento Rural, Maputo, Mozambique; cPenevy Services, Huskisson, Australia; dSchool of Commerce, University of South Australia, Adelaide; eCSIRO Agriculture and Food, Canberra, Australia; fInternational Crop Research Institute for Semi-arid Tropics, Matopos Research Station, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Contact: M. Chilundo | Email: mchilundo@gmail.com

Abstract

Over four years, a research-for-development project was implemented at the 25 de Setembro irrigation scheme in Mozambique. The project introduced agricultural innovation platforms to overcome barriers to production such as input and output supply chains and poorly maintained irrigation canals. Soil moisture and nutrient monitoring tools were provided so that farmers could improve their irrigation and fertilizer management. The farmers increased their crop production through the use of the tools and better irrigation infrastructure, and increased their income and overall well-being through better links to markets and new information sources facilitated by the agricultural innovation platforms.

Pages: S127–S147


Article

The role of soil water monitoring tools and agricultural innovation platforms in improving food security and income of farmers in smallholder irrigation schemes in Tanzania

M. Mdemua, L. Kissolyb, H. Bjornlundc, E. Kimaroa, E. W. Christend, A. van Rooyene, R. Stirzakerf and P. Ramshawg

aSchool of Spatial Planning and Social Sciences, Ardhi University, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; bDepartment of Economics and Social Studies, Ardhi University, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; cSchool of Commerce, University of South Australia, Adelaide; dPenevy Services Ltd, New South Wales, Australia; eInternational Crops Research Institute for Semi-arid Tropics, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe; fCommonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Canberra, Australia; gFenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, Canberra

Contact: M. Mdemu | Email: mak_mdemu@yahoo.co.uk

Abstract

Smallholder irrigation is an important pathway towards better livelihoods and food security in sub-Saharan Africa. This article assesses the contribution of farmer-friendly soil and water monitoring tools, and agricultural innovation platforms, towards household income and food security in two small-scale irrigation schemes in Tanzania. Quantitative and qualitative data from farmer’s field books, household surveys and focus groups were used to assess the impacts of the two interventions. The two interventions together contributed to enhancing smallholders’ food security and household income in the two schemes, as did the agricultural innovation platform on its own.

Pages: S148–S170


Article

Identifying leverage points to transition dysfunctional irrigation schemes towards complex adaptive systems

André F. van Rooyena, Martin Moyoa, Henning Bjornlundb, Thabani Dubea, Karen Parryb and Richard Stirzakerc

aInternational Crops Research Institute for Semi-arid Tropics, Matopos Research Station, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe; bSchool of Commerce, University of South Australia, Adelaide; cCSIRO Agriculture and Food, Canberra, Australia

Contact: André F. van Rooyen | Email: a.vanrooyen@cgiar.org

Abstract

This article explores the value of Ostrom’s socio-ecological systems framework and Meadows’s leverage point hierarchy, as structured diagnostics, to define systemic problems and avoid approaches based on linear thinking. These frameworks were applied as an ex post analysis of an irrigation scheme in Zimbabwe, drawing on the scheme’s baseline condition and the intervention outcomes. Strong leverage points, particularly those driving feedback mechanisms and institutional design, interacted with other intervention points, initiating systemic change. This analysis suggests that dysfunctional schemes can be transitioned towards complex adaptive systems by using agricultural innovation platforms to identify systemic challenges and intervention points.

Pages: S171–S198


Article

The importance of learning processes in transitioning smallscale irrigation schemes

Karen Parrya, André F. van Rooyenb, Henning Bjornlunda, Luitfred Kissolyc, Martin Moyob and Wilson de Sousad

aSchool of Commerce, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia; bInternational Crops Research Institute for Semi-arid Tropics, Matopos Research Station, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe; cDepartment of Economics and Social Studies, Ardhi University, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; dInstito National de Irrigação, Maputo, Mozambique

Contact: Karen Parry | Email: karen.parry@unisa.edu.au

Abstract

Many small-scale irrigation schemes are dysfunctional, and learning, innovation and evaluation are required to facilitate sustainable transitions. Using quantitative and qualitative data from five irrigation schemes in sub-Saharan Africa, we analyze how learning and change arose in response to: soil monitoring tools, which triggered a deep learning cycle; and agricultural innovation platforms, which helped develop a social learning system. Knowledge generation and innovation were driven by the incentives of more profitable farming. Learning and change spread to farmers without the tools, and learning at different levels resulted in extension and governance stakeholders facilitating profound institutional change.

Pages: S199–S223


Article

Growth and inequality at the micro scale: an empirical analysis of farm incomes within smallholder irrigation systems in Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Mozambique

A. Maneroa*, H. Bjornlundb, S. Wheelerc, A. Zuoc, M. Mdemud, A. Van Rooyene and M. Chilundof

aSchool of Agriculture and Environment, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia; bSchool of Commerce, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia; cCentre for Global Food and Resources at the University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia; dSchool of Spatial Planning and Social Sciences, Ardhi University, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; eInternational Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Bulawayo, Zimbabwe; fEduardo Mondlane University, Faculty of Agronomy and Forestry Engineering, Department of Rural Engineering, Maputo, Mozambique

Contact: A. Manero | Email: ana.manero@anu.edu.au

Abstract

The mechanisms linking growth and inequality are critical for poverty reduction, yet they remain poorly understood at the micro level, as current knowledge is dominated by country-wide studies. This article evaluates farm income growth and changes in inequality among five smallholder irrigation communities in Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Over the period of study, the poorest sections of the population became better-off. Over an income growth spell, at low levels of growth, relative inequality increases, but it starts to drop as growth rises beyond a certain rate. Thus, careful design is required to ensure that pro-growth strategies also become inequality-reducing.

Pages: S224–S245


Article

Irrigators’ willingness to pay for the adoption of soil moisture monitoring tools in South-Eastern Africa

Fentahun Abebea, Alec Zuoa, Sarah Ann Wheelera, Henning Bjornlundb, Andre van Rooyenc, Jamie Pittockd, Makarius Mdemue and Mario Chilundof

aCentre for Global Food and Resources, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia; bSchool of Commerce, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia; cInternational Crops Research Institute for Semi-arid Tropics, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe; dFenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia; eSchool of Spatial Planning and Social Sciences, Ardhi University, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; fFaculty of Agronomy and Forestry Engineering, Department of Rural Engineering, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Maputo, Mozambique

Contact: Fentahun Abebe | Email: fentahun.abebe@adelaide.edu.au

Abstract

Contingent valuation is used to elicit irrigators’ willingness to pay for soil moisture tools in irrigation schemes in Africa, with various econometric methods employed to mitigate potential bias. Key results include that there is a neighbourhood effect influencing adoption, and that being located downstream and spending more on irrigation water positively and statistically significantly influenced willingness to pay for tools. The result suggests that although focusing on economic incentives and promoting farmer learning by those using the tools may promote greater adoption, there is likely to still be a need for co-investment by other bodies.

Pages: S246–S267


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