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Does A Market Systems Approach Revitalize Smallholder Irrigation Schemes? Evidence from Zimbabwe


  • Masasi, Blessing
  • Ng’ombe, John N.


Smallholder irrigation schemes potentially improve the livelihoods of rural communities in developing countries. However, they face challenges such as infrastructural decline, lack of funding, lack of markets, shortage of water, underutilization of land, and inefficient irrigation systems. In Zimbabwe, the government carried out rehabilitation programs to address these problems but the performance of smallholder irrigation schemes remained poor. These chronic challenges triggered experts to adopt a market systems approach (MSA) to revitalize failing irrigation schemes. Using primary and secondary data sources collected in 2015, this study used a “before” and “after” descriptive assessment approach to determine the effectiveness of the MSA at revitalizing smallholder irrigation schemes in Zimbabwe. We used Mutema Irrigation Scheme as a case study. Results suggest that the MSA leads to improved efficiency of irrigation infrastructure, farm gross margins, willingness to pay irrigation fees and farmers’ standard of living. While this research does not econometrically establish causation of relations between variables involved, our results provide a foundation for future research on the application of the MSA to revitalize underperforming smallholder irrigation schemes in developing countries.

Suggested Citation

  • Masasi, Blessing & Ng’ombe, John N., 2019. "Does A Market Systems Approach Revitalize Smallholder Irrigation Schemes? Evidence from Zimbabwe," MPRA Paper 94782, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 08 Mar 2019.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:94782

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Henning Bjornlund & Andre van Rooyen & Richard Stirzaker, 2017. "Profitability and productivity barriers and opportunities in small-scale irrigation schemes," International Journal of Water Resources Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(5), pages 690-704, September.
    2. Burney, Jennifer A. & Naylor, Rosamond L., 2012. "Smallholder Irrigation as a Poverty Alleviation Tool in Sub-Saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 110-123.
    3. Bos, M. G. & Burton, M. A. & Molden, David J., 2005. "Irrigation and drainage performance assessment: practical guidelines," IWMI Books, Reports H037064, International Water Management Institute.
    4. M. Moyo & A. van Rooyen & M. Moyo & P. Chivenge & H. Bjornlund, 2017. "Irrigation development in Zimbabwe: understanding productivity barriers and opportunities at Mkoba and Silalatshani irrigation schemes," International Journal of Water Resources Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(5), pages 740-754, September.
    5. Poulton, Colin & Dorward, Andrew & Kydd, Jonathan, 2010. "The Future of Small Farms: New Directions for Services, Institutions, and Intermediation," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(10), pages 1413-1428, October.
    6. Nhundu, K. & Mushunje, Abbyssinia, 2010. "Analysis Of Irrigation Development Post Fast Track Land Reform Programme. A Case Study Of Goromonzi District, Mashonaland East Province, Zimbabwe," 2010 AAAE Third Conference/AEASA 48th Conference, September 19-23, 2010, Cape Town, South Africa 97065, African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE).
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    Cited by:

    1. Janvier Hakuzimana, 2021. "Break Free From Plastics: Environmental Perspectives And Evidence From Rwanda," Environment & Ecosystem Science (EES), Zibeline International Publishing, vol. 5(1), pages 27-36, March.

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    More about this item


    market systems approach; smallholder irrigation schemes; revitalization; Zimbabwe;
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    JEL classification:

    • Q1 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture

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