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University of Pretoria (2010)

Farmers’ strategies and modes of operation in smallholder irrigation schemes in South Africa : a case study of Mamuhohi Irrigation Scheme in Limpopo Province

Mudau, Khathutshelo Seth

Titre : Farmers’ strategies and modes of operation in smallholder irrigation schemes in South Africa : a case study of Mamuhohi Irrigation Scheme in Limpopo Province

Auteur : Mudau, Khathutshelo Seth

Université de soutenance : University of Pretoria

Grade : MInstAgrar Master’s Dissertation 2010

Résumé partiel
This study was undertaken at a smallholder irrigation scheme in the previously disadvantaged rural area of Mamuhohi in the Limpopo Province. Like other smallholder irrigation schemes in South Africa, Mamuhohi Irrigation Scheme has not performed particularly well. The expectations of interveners like politicians, development agencies and planners have not been realised in smallholder irrigation schemes. Constraints faced by smallholder farmers include a history of dependency ; the high costs of mechanisation ; the absence of credit, inputs, and output markets ; insecure land tenure ; “hedgehog behaviour” among smallholders ; lack of funding ; and poor management and maintenance of infrastructure. The White Paper on Agriculture (NDA, 1995) clearly set out government‘s intention to withdraw subsidies previously enjoyed by farmers and to ensure that the real costs of natural resources are reflected in the pricing of resources in order to discourage abuse. This resulted in the enacting of laws like the new National Water Act of 1998 (DWAF, 1998), aimed at sustainable water management. This included the rehabilitation of infrastructure prior to transfer, and the establishment of water users’ associations amongst farmers, which were to take over ownership and collective management of the schemes. The overall objective of the study was therefore to assess the sustainability and, more specifically, the economic viability of smallholder irrigation schemes in South Africa in the context of irrigation transfer. Hypothesis to be tested : The behaviour of smallholder farmers is diverse and is reflected in the way in which they view farming and engage in agricultural practices. The study also sought to indicate the existence of diversity in the smallholder irrigation scheme, by exposing different types of smallholder farmers within the scheme. This information should be of great importance in assisting smallholder farmers regarding issues of their own development. The findings will also help to curb the generalisation of developers’ perceptions regarding smallholder irrigation farmers. Smallholder irrigation farmers are feeling the full impact of the withdrawal of government assistance from the irrigation schemes, which have deteriorated to a state of partial collapse. A great need among farmers remains the rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructure, which would enable them to farm their land. As indicated earlier, the study found that diverse types of smallholder farmers exist within the irrigation scheme. This indicates that appropriate information in this regard is important for government in the formulation of policies aimed at the development of such farmers. Through this study, four types of smallholder farmers were identified within the same irrigation scheme. The methodology applied in achieving the aforementioned outputs pursued a specific sequence, starting with the formulation of questions.

Mots clés : smallholder irrigation schemes ; South Africa ; farmers

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Page publiée le 6 avril 2011, mise à jour le 13 juin 2018