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Annex A-9 Rozva Irrigation Scheme


Rozva irrigation scheme was established in 1994 and is located in Bikita District of Masvingo Province. The scheme is fully government managed and its performance from the start has been poor. At the planning stage farmers were opposed to the project as they felt the government was imposing the project on them. In the process of convincing the farmers to accept the project, the government made some unrealistic promises, which it failed to fulfil later on. Farmers felt they were let down in this respect. Water management, repair and maintenance are a problem on the scheme. AGRITEX, which is supposed to maintain the infield infrastructure, is not doing so due to budgetary constraints. The farmers, who were drawn from two different kraals, are finding it difficult to work together. The scheme is located in Natural Region III where crop yields from dryland agriculture can be reasonable in a good year. This results in farmers dividing their attention between dryland and irrigation plots especially during the rainy season.


Rozva irrigation scheme is located in Bikita District of Masvingo Province. It is located about 80 km from Masvingo town along the Masvingo-Birchenough Bridge highway. The scheme is 5 km west of Nyika business centre in Natural Region III, a relatively high rainfall area that receives about 700 mm of rainfall per year on average. The 21 ha scheme supports 33 farmers with 9 farmers having 1 ha plots and the rest 0.5 ha. The membership of the scheme was drawn from two villages that are adjacent to each other. There is conflict between these two villages which started well before the scheme begun. The scheme utilizes a surface irrigation system with the water being pumped from Rozva dam. Water is applied onto the field through polythene pipes connected to hydrants.

Planning of the scheme

The Government of Zimbabwe established Rozva scheme in 1994 as part of the government programme to alleviate the effects of recurrent droughts in the communal and resettlement areas. Funds were provided by the governments of Zimbabwe and Germany. Consulting companies Dorsh Consult and Halcrow were employed by the government to plan the scheme. The consultants identified the irrigable lands and made some preliminary studies, after which they called for meetings with the farmers to explain the project to the farmers. On one of these meetings the farmers rejected the project and farmers argued that the plans of the project had been done by the consultants on their own without them being consulted. Several government departments, including AGRITEX, and the District Administrator's (DA's) Office were called in to convince the farmers. However these efforts to convince the farmers were unsuccessful. It appeared that some influential individuals within the community had given farmers the impression that the project was meant to make the farmers loose their lands and become unpaid government workers on the scheme. The farmers further argued that they were getting enough food from their dryland plots, hence there was no need for the irrigation project.

Politicians were also called in to explain the project to the farmers. Farmers were threatened with eviction if they refused the project. Despite the threats from politicians the farmers continued to refuse the project. The refusal by the Rozva farmers became a national issue and was even captured in the national media as is illustrated in Table 40 where an article appeared in a Zimbabwean daily newspaper "The Herald"

A newspaper report on the refusal of Rozva irrigation scheme by farmers (Source: The Herald, 29 September, 1993)

    Z$ 1 million irrigation plan rejected.

    Herald Reporter: 29 September 1993, Masvingo

    More than Z$1million, which was earmarked for an intensive irrigation programme on the newly built Z$4.5 million Rozva dam in Bikita, has been channeled to other districts after the intended beneficiaries pledged to resist the project.

    While the government was committed to initiating the irrigation scheme in communal Masvingo to alleviate the effects of recurring drought, some 160 families living in the shores of the dam have scorned the idea. The people were not hesitant to express their opposition to the project when the Masvingo Provincial Governor, Dzikamai Mavhaire, addressed them on the importance of the dam to Bikita. It was envisaged that the water would be pumped from the dam to Nyika business centre, a few kilometres away. Today, the business centre depends on two unreliable boreholes for its water.

    The District Administrator, Steven Chikasha, said at a meeting here last week that the project was doomed to fail if the villagers maintained their present position on the issue. "These people have come out in the open and told us not to force the scheme on them but we should not let them dictate the trend of development in Bikita" Chikasha said. However, several villagers interviewed indicated that there were some "powerful forces" that were fuelling their resistance to the project. Some independent observers, who asked not to be identified, said that the irrigation had been a rallying point in the last parliamentary elections. Some candidates who stood for election in the constituency are alleged to have promised to back the people against the programme. "Our leaders told us that this irrigation (scheme) would mean working in our fields throughout the year which we cannot do" said Mugini, a villager. The Provincial Development Committee has, meanwhile, resolved to transfer the money initially allocated to the Rozva Dam Irrigation Scheme to other projects in Chivi District.

    The Chivi District Administrator, Felix Mhishi, told the meeting that the money should not be returned to central government when thousands of people elsewhere in the province were craving for funds to ease the effects of droughts. Feasibility studies had already been started on two other dams ...

The proposed project did not die down as was suggested. Some politicians, AGRITEX, the DA and the consultants continued explaining to the farmers the advantages of having the project. They even went to the extent of promising farmers free inputs and a security fence. After a series of further meetings, farmers finally accepted the project in principle. However, they were still not very sure about the benefits. Scheme construction was completed in 1994. Farmers did not participate in the construction, instead they were hired as casual labour.

After completion the scheme was handed over to the two kraal heads for plot allocation. According to the designs each farmer was to be allocated 0.5 ha, thus the 21 ha scheme was supposed to benefit 42 farmers. However during plot allocation there was an argument between the two kraals, one kraal had lost more land to the irrigation scheme, and hence the farmers from this kraal demanded larger plot sizes. This created tension among the farmers and the result was that 9 farmers got 1 ha each and 24 farmers got 0.5 ha each. This means, that 33 farmers benefited from the project instead of the planned 42.

Social aspects

Land tenure and inheritance

The farmers hold either a 0.5 ha or a 1 ha plot in the irrigation scheme, with an average of 1 ha in the dryland. The system of inheritance in place is that if a plot holder dies the surviving spouse will take over the plot. If both spouses die, the eldest son will inherit the plot. This system applies to both irrigation and dryland plots. Farmers are comfortable with this type of tenure.

Disputes and conflicts

There are disputes and conflicts between the two villages who are participating in the scheme. The two groups can not work together and this is affecting the smooth operation of the scheme. One village is said to be lazy, negative about the management of the scheme and does not want to cooperate. The nature of conflict could not be established but it was said to date back to the 1950s when the villagers came to settle in Bikita. This poor relationship between the farmers was said to be threatening the viability of the scheme.

Scheme operation, maintenance and management

The irrigation scheme is fully government run, but there are intentions to hand it over to the farmers. An IMC is in place to assist in the running of the scheme.

Irrigation Management Committee

The main function of the committee is to link the government organizations that run the scheme with the farmers. The IMC consists of:

  1. Chairperson and vice chairperson
  2. Secretary and vice secretary
  3. Treasurer and
  4. Two committee members

The IMC uses bye-laws to run the scheme. It ensures that cropping programmes are adhered to, fencing is kept in good state. It is also responsible for ordering water from DWR. The Extension Worker complained that the IMC is not effective. The chairperson, who happens to be the kraal head of one of the villages, is always opposed by the other kraal head and his people. Most of the meetings the chairperson organizes are not attended.

Institutional support

AGRITEX and DWR are the two departments responsible for the management of the irrigation scheme.


AGRITEX is responsible for technical advice on water management and crop production. It is also supposed to maintain the infield infrastructure. There is a poor working relationship between AGRITEX and the farmers. Farmers pointed out that AGRITEX is not fulfilling the promises it made during scheme planning. Some of the allegations are:


DWR is responsible for the maintenance up to the night storage dam. In addition they pay for electricity.

Agricultural performance

The scheme is not doing well in terms of crop production. The major crops grown are green maize and vegetables in summer, while beans are grown in winter. Cropping in the scheme is mainly confined to the dry season, while during the rainy season the farmers concentrate on their dryland plots. Yields of less than 2 tons/ha on average were reported for maize, while beans yields do not exceed 1 ton/ha. Use of fertilizer is also very low. For example, maize receives only 150 kg/ha basal fertilizer on average as opposed to the recommended 500 kg/ha. Top dressing fertilizer used on maize is 140 kg/ha as compared to the recommended 400 kg/ha.

The cropping intensity varies from year to year but it hardly exceeds 100%. The situation is worse in summer when people shift to their dryland plots. Some reasons given by the farmers for not achieving the intended 200% cropping intensity are:

Due to the above mentioned reasons some plot holders are no longer cultivating in the irrigation scheme. They rent out their plots to other willing people. For example currently there are two local dealers (shop owners) who are renting a number of plots in the scheme. This means that benefits are now accruing to the unintended beneficiaries.

Commercial aspects


Crops are marketed locally at the farm gate and Nyika business centre. Some buyers come with their own transport to buy green maize at the scheme. Farmers have not exploited far away markets such as Masvingo town. This is due to lack of cooperation among the farmers, lack of knowledge and in most cases the low quality of produce. The farmers realize that they can not compete at the big markets in Masvingo, due to the low quality of their produce.

Inputs acquisition

Inputs are obtained from the nearby Nyika business centre. Inputs are normally funded by the previous season's proceeds and by remittances from children employed in towns. Farmers have cash flow problems and they can not afford to use high levels of inputs.


Family labour is mostly the source of labour for the scheme. There is very insignificant hiring of labour on the scheme. Those who hire labour pay in kind (for example give vegetables). The labour is available in the community but farmers do not have the money to hire it.

Credit facilities

Most of the farmers are not credit worthy, so they can not get loans from the AFC. Some of them have accumulated arrears on the repayment of loans acquired for dryland cropping. Other farmers claimed that they do not deal with AFC because of high interest rates.

Farm income analysis

Incomes derived from Rozva scheme are very low. Farmers could not reveal their income levels, but they just indicated that they are low. There were no farmer written records to help in the assessment of incomes. The Extension Worker indicated that the annual net incomes do not exceed Z$ 3 000 per farmer. However, the two local dealers renting some plots on the scheme claimed that they were getting net annual incomes of Z$ 40 000 per farmer. This could not be substantiated by written records.

Financial and economic analysis

The discounted cash flow analysis for Rozva irrigation scheme is presented in Table 41. The analysis is done at constant 1993 prices. The NPV is negative, hence the project is non-viable. The economic analysis gives an NPV of minus Z$ 20 754, again indicating that the project is not viable from an economic point of view.

Discounted cash flow analysis for Rozva irrigation scheme

Year Investment Costs (Z$) Energy Costs (Z$) Water Charges (Z$) Replace-ment Costs (Z$) Repair & Maintenance Costs (Z$) Extension (Z$) Irrigation Income (Z$) Incremental Benefit (Z$)
1994 140 318             -140 318
1995 140 318 43 750   0 31 500 120 000 1 008 000 672 432
1996 140 318 43 750   0 31 500 120 000 113 400 -222 168
1997 140 318 43 750   0 31 500 120 000 126 000 -209 568
1998 140 318 43 750 26 979 0 31 500 120 000 126 000 -236 547
NPV               -30 654

Socio-economic impact

The Rozva irrigation scheme has failed to achieve its intended objectives. The poor performance of the scheme is a direct result of poor planning on the part of the government. The project has failed to alleviate the effects of drought, which was one of the objectives when the scheme was established. Productivity in the irrigation scheme is not very different from that in dryland agriculture. Farmers claimed that during a good rainy season, crop yields obtained from their dryland plots can exceed crop yields obtained from the irrigation plots. The fact that farmers are using low levels of inputs on their irrigation plots is partly responsible for the low yields. Lack of commitment on the part of the farmers can also be blamed on the poor performance of the scheme. The irrigation scheme can allow 200% cropping intensity but the farmers are only practicing less than 100% cropping intensity.

The scheme is not generating enough employment for the local people. Only a few people are employed as hired labour and these are normally paid in kind. The absence of record books at the scheme is an indication that the farmers have not developed a commercial mentality. A lot more work is needed to transform these farmers in to business minded farmers. Farmers interviewed explained that they have not managed to buy any implements using scheme incomes. Most of them still have problems with draught power. The renting out of plots by some farmers is an indication that these farmers have failed to see the benefits of irrigation.

In terms of food security and food self-sufficiency farmers are still struggling. During the 1996/97 drought, irrigators could not get enough food from the scheme despite the fact that they had adequate water resources for irrigation. Farmers had to receive drought relief handouts from the government. An efficient and viable irrigation scheme should act as a source of food for surrounding communities during periods of drought.


Rozva irrigation scheme is performing badly and not meeting the intended objectives. Lessons have to be learnt from this scheme for the future planning of other irrigation schemes. Some of the factors that are contributing to the poor performance of the scheme are:

It is recommended that any future smallholder irrigation development planning should avoid the mistakes made at Rozva. The following lessons have been learnt from the Rozva experience:

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