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University of Pretoria (2007)

Development and differentiation : the case of TILCOR/ARDA irrigation activities in Sanyati (Zimbabwe), 1939 to 2000

Nyandoro, Mark

Titre : Development and differentiation : the case of TILCOR/ARDA irrigation activities in Sanyati (Zimbabwe), 1939 to 2000

Auteur : Nyandoro, Mark

Université de soutenance : University of Pretoria

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy PhD (History) 2007

In this study, two rather distinct forms of differentiation are examined, namely class differentiation that was associated with peasant production (1939-1964) and that which manifested itself with the inception of irrigation schemes in the northwestern part of the country in general and Sanyati in particular in the period 1965 to 2000. The study is, thus, divided into two major parts. Using a case study approach, this work particularly explores and documents the extent to which the twin processes of development and differentiation took place in Sanyati communal lands in Zimbabwe under both dryland and irrigation conditions from the beginning of the Second World War up to 2000. Research on Tribal Trust Land Development Corporation (TILCOR) or Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) schemes in Sanyati (Gowe and the Main Estate) reveals that differentiation as a process has been understudied. This is because of the tendency among scholars and government officials alike to construe ARDA schemes as being devoid of any signs of differentiation (i.e. as homogeneous societal entities) mainly because the plotholders (outgrowers) were allocated standardised or uniform sized plots averaging 3,5 ha which they farmed on a tenantry basis. However, this study challenges this basic assumption and argues that both dryland and irrigation farming in Sanyati facilitated commercialisation and the development of significant disparities in wealth among rural households. Clear patterns of socio-economic differentiation also emerge despite the proscribing effects of the Native Land Husbandry Act (NLHA) of 1950 and the adoption in the 1960s of a lease agreement structure by ARDA which in many ways threatened to incapacitate the irrigation plotholders’ advance towards accumulation. The lease agreement was the contract outgrowers entered into in order to have the right to use government allocated plots for a specified period of time (i.e. 99-year leases) at all ARDA irrigation schemes in Zimbabwe. Although such state interventionist measures threatened to arrest rural differentiation, the study argues that Sanyati peasants still had abundant initiative to blunt both the colonial and post- colonial states’ offensive. Irrigation has been perceived in state policy circles primarily as a least cost means offamine relief and as a means of settling displaced farmers from Crown Land (government owned land) in the colonial period and other types of land categories after independence. This implies that the government developed schemes in the communal areas mainly on the strength of their social desirability alone. However, this study challenges scholarship which conceives the problem of rural development as no more than moving the rural population from a subsistence economy to a cash economy. It argues that such schemesas Gowe, on the basis of cotton commodity production, at different stages in the period under review have transcended the social desirability objective and become a source of affluence and economic progress for some innovative and commercially oriented rural farmers. Indeed, the study demonstrates that the introduction of both cotton and irrigation in the 1960s deepened socio-economic inequalities among the plotholding households and dryland farming households in Sanyati. The important questions the study will answer are :

  1. What was the state of the peasant economy (based on dryland farming) in Sanyati prior to irrigation ?
  2. How far did peasant differentiation emerge in Sanyati prior to irrigation enterprise ?
  3. Did irrigation facilitate increased production of cotton and other crops as well as increased access to wealth/income ?
  4. To what extent did irrigation agriculture lead to the emergence of rural differentiation in the region ?
  5. Did the state (both colonial and post-colonial) promote rural differentiation ?
Thus, the study evaluates peasant (especially dryland) agriculture from 1939 and irrigation farming from the 1960s and analyses how the relationship between ARDASanyati and Gowe has developed since the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) up to 2000. At the same time, elements of continuity or change in the interaction of the two are addressed within the context of the colonial and post-colonial paradigms in order to demonstrate how Sanyati society was differentiated in the two major periods under review.

Mots clés : irrigation, differentiation TILCOR/ARDA, activities, Sanyati (Zimbabwe), development


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