Skip to main content

User-driven approaches for smallholder irrigation in Mozambique

ACIAR logo

The Cultivate Africa’s Future Fund (CultiAF) is a ten-year, CA$35 million partnership (AUD$37 million) between IDRC and the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). CultiAF funds applied research aimed at improving food security, resilience, and gender equality across Eastern and Southern Africa.

Along with development partners, the Government of Mozambique has invested significantly in revitalizing and expanding smallholder irrigation schemes to improve agricultural productivity, food security, climate resilience, and to reduce poverty. These are in addition to farmer-led irrigation schemes, estimated to cover at least twice the area of government-funded smallholder irrigation. However, inefficiencies constrain the performance of both schemes.

This project will identify the challenges of the schemes and it will design and test innovative user-driven approaches to enhance the economic gains and improve the economic efficiency and sustainability of 10 government-funded and farmer-led irrigation schemes in the provinces of Gaza and Manica.

The challenge

Mozambique’s National Agriculture Survey of 2014 showed that 84% of individuals aged 15 years and older considered agriculture to be their predominant livelihood, yet productivity remains very low. Although the government has recognized the importance of smallholder irrigation to improve productivity, only small-scale schemes (20-200 hectares) have been implemented. Farmers lack the resources and skills to sustain such schemes and government rehabilitation and expansion programs lack appropriate strategies to safeguard them. There is great potential for research to introduce innovative ideas that can increase the productivity, profitability, and institutional sustainability of these small-scale irrigation schemes.

The research

Researchers will test user-driven and business-oriented models to increase the productivity, profitability, equity, and sustainability of irrigation schemes in Mozambique. The project will combine technical (soil and water management practices), social (business plans and market linkages), and institutional (innovation platforms and water-user associations) innovations in the ongoing schemes to compare changes in their management, productivity, and profitability for farmers.

A gender analysis will be conducted to reveal underlying power dynamics, roles, preferences, and decision-making processes in water access, use, and management. Scenario planning will be developed with men, women, and youth to inform the design of user-driven, equitable, and gender-responsive approaches for schemes that are inclusive of all users.

Expected outcomes

  • Increase the use of soil and water management technologies;
  • Double the yields for selected crops and expand production;
  • Increase crop prices through better market linkages and increase incomes for over 1,000 men, women, and young farmers;
  • Reduce conflict for shared resources at community and household levels, increase farmer willingness to participate in community institutions, and strengthen and improve inclusivity of farmer and water-user organizations;
  • Enhance skills of extension staff in water management, business planning, microfinance, and youth business incubation;
  • Support three masters’ students and one PhD student and enhance the field experience for 12 students involved in data collection and farmer training.

Learn more about this project.