Transforming smallholder irrigation schemes in Africa

Date released
18 September 2018
Publication Code

Jamie Pittock, Peter Ramshaw, Henning Bjornlund, Emmanuel Kimaro, Makarius Mdemu, Martin Moyo, Sithembile Ndema, Andre van Rooyen, Richard Stirzaker and Wilson de Sousa


This publication is a guide to help farmers become more profitable and sustainable. Across Africa, smallholder irrigation schemes have performed poorly, leading to calls for their ‘revitalisation’, ‘reoperation’ or ‘rehabilitation’. The authors present knowledge generated through four years of research intervention at six irrigation schemes in Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, and their understanding of what has worked to turn five of into successful enterprises.

A summary of the best advice on good practices needed for more sustainable irrigation is presented. Each intervention can be considered alone, although a number of different complementary interventions are usually required to achieve better socioeconomic and environmental outcomes.

The ideas described in the publication were developed through the project 'Increasing irrigation water productivity in Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe through on-farm monitoring, adaptive management and agricultural innovation platforms' that was largely funded by ACIAR project FSC/2013/006.