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Performance analysis of management strategies in Tshiombo irrigation scheme of South Africa.

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The poor performance of most irrigation schemes has undermined their potential of transforming the rural community into economic hubs which will create employment for rural people. Therefore, focusing on the management strategies of smallholder irrigation schemes will create viable alternatives that will improve scheme performance. This study aims to assess the contribution of management strategies on the performance of smallholder irrigation farming in Tshiombo irrigation scheme. The study specifically looks on the performance of scheme farmers, extent to which available incentives impact scheme farmers’ performance and the impact of institutional factors on scheme performance. The study was done in Tshiombo irrigation scheme located in Thulamela Municipality in Limpopo Province of South Africa. Stratified random sampling was used to select 148 from the head, middle and lower section of the scheme. Focus group discussions (FDGs) and Key informant interviews (KIIs) was conducted. Financial performance of the scheme was analysed using gross margin and Ordinary Least Square. Principal Component Analysis and Ordinary Least Square were used to find the relationship between the role of institutions, incentives and scheme performance. Cabbage has the highest gross margin of R187 324.08, while maize and sweet potatoes have a gross margin of R22 275.95 and R5 873.62 respectively. Age of scheme farmers, labour availability, size of cultivated area pesticide subsidy, market price, and distance of the plot from the main canal significantly affect scheme performance by -0.022, -0.185, -0.30, 0.138, 6.090, and 0.191 respectively. Participation of institutions in Tshiombo irrigation scheme helps to improve scheme farmers’ performance. Results show variance on access to institutional services among groups of farmers. Poor combination of institutional factors contributes to the poor performance of irrigation scheme. Smallholder farmers in Tshiombo approach farming as a business and can generate profit from their investment. There is a need for female farmers to prioritise crops with high-profit margins in order to improve scheme performance. The government should change support from subsidy to cash to allow flexibility in access to inputs. Farmers’ choice of institutional services should be identified and promoted. Institutions should form some platforms upon which they meet and facilitate resource governance. High yielding combination of institutional services needs to be identified and embraced.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg.