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Annex A-10 Wenimbi Irrigation Scheme


The 34.2 ha Wenimbi irrigation scheme is located in Marondera District of Mashonaland East Province. It is one of the most successful farmer managed irrigation schemes in Zimbabwe. Started in 1991, the scheme experienced some problems during the first two years of operation due to frequent breakdowns of the diesel engine. The replacement of this engine by an electric motor driven pump in 1993 was a turning point in the performance of the scheme. The cropping improved, with crop yields being higher than expected levels. The incomes derived from the scheme also increased, resulting in improvement in the standard of living of the participants. In 1997, an average annual net income of Z$ 79 000 per farmer was derived from the irrigation scheme. This income is much higher than the minimum wage of Z$ 16 800 per year paid to an unskilled worker in the Zimbabwean industry. Apart from improving incomes, the scheme also acts as a source of food security in the area, provides employment for the surrounding villagers and results in government savings on drought relief. The successes of the scheme are linked to good planning and the good day-to-day management of the scheme. The farmers identified the irrigation scheme and they participated in the planning, designing and implementation of the scheme. Labour for trenching was provided by the farmers and the infield infrastructure was financed by the farmers, using medium term loans obtained from the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC). This involvement of farmers instilled a sense of ownership. The repair, operation and management of the scheme are the full responsibility of the farmers and these activities are being carried out well and in time. The physical infrastructure of the scheme is in good condition. The good performance of the scheme is improving the standard of living of the farmers and the economy in general.


Wenimbi irrigation scheme is located in Marondera District of Mashonaland East Province. The scheme is approximately 12 km south of Macheke, a town which is located 130 km from Harare along the Harare-Mutare highway. The 34.2 ha scheme is in Natural Region III, a region that receives on average 500-700 mm of rainfall per year. Dryland crop production is limited by frequent mid season droughts. A total of 22 farmers are supported by the irrigation scheme, with each irrigator holding a plot of 1.55 ha. In addition, each farmer owns 8 acres under dryland but the dryland plots are not in use at the moment. The scheme uses a pumped sprinkler irrigation system and water is pumped from a pick-up weir across Macheke River.

Planning of the scheme

Farmers initiated the Wenimbi irrigation scheme. In 1987, 46 farmers from Domboshawa communal area were resettled in the Wenimbi resettlement area. During their stay in Domboshawa the farmers successfully practiced horticultural crop production, using water from wetlands (dambos). Upon resettlement farmers wanted to continue with this practice, but the absence of wetlands and the harsh climatic conditions in Wenimbi was a limiting factor.

In 1988, 22 of the 46 farmers on the resettlement scheme approached AGRITEX staff at the Marondera district office for assistance with the introduction of an irrigation scheme. The other 24 farmers were not willing to participate in the project. The AGRITEX Marondera office approached the AGRITEX team in Harare for assistance. This was followed by an AGRITEX reconnaissance visit to the site. Several meetings were subsequently held between the AGRITEX team to discuss the potential for irrigation development and the provisions of the Irrigation Support Fund (ISF), a government fund that was being administered by the AFC to support irrigation development. During these meetings the farmers reiterated their wish to take part in irrigation on a full-time basis and they intended to run the scheme on their own, on an individual basis, with each farmer holding his or her own plot. Between August and September 1988 designs for the irrigation system were carried out by AGRITEX, after consultations with the farmers. The farmers opted for a sprinkler irrigation system, after AGRITEX had explained to them the various options of irrigation systems available.

In 1990 the scheme was constructed by a private irrigation company, with full farmer participation. The cost to field edge was financed through the Irrigation Support Fund (ISF). This was then a fund put aside by the government for the development of smallholder schemes. The farmers financed the infield works after they borrowed money from the National Farm Irrigation Fund (NFIF), a fund set aside for farmers to borrow for irrigation development. The NFIF was also administered by the AFC. The ISF was a government grant and the NFIF was a medium-term loan which farmers had to pay back over 10 years at a 9.75% interest rate per year. In addition to their funding, farmers also contributed their labour during construction. The summary of construction costs for Wenimbi irrigation scheme are given in Table 42.

Wenimbi irrigation scheme investment costs (Source: Feasibility and design report for Wenimbi irrigation scheme, AGRITEX 1988)

Item Cost per ha (Z$)
Cost to field edge 54 342
Infield costs 89 000
Total 143 342

According to the designs, water was to be delivered to the field using an electric motor driven pump. However, a transformer could not be found on the market by ZESA to allow this system of operation. The contractor, in agreement with AGRITEX and the farmers, installed a diesel engine to drive the pump since farmers could not wait any longer. The diesel engine operated from 1991 to 1992 after which it was replaced by an electric motor driven pump.

Social aspects

Land tenure and inheritance

If a registered plot holder dies the plot remains for all children and the remaining spouse. The question of inheritance is included in the bye-laws. If the remaining spouse dies, then the children take over. No outsider is allowed into the scheme. Farmers practicing dryland agriculture who shunned the irrigation scheme when it took off are now interested in joining the scheme. However the system of inheritance in place does not allow them to come in. Irrigators feel that if outsiders are allowed to join in they may disturb the smooth operations of the scheme since they do not understand the value of irrigation infrastructure.

Scheme operation, maintenance and management

Irrigation Management Committee

The scheme is fully farmer managed, through a very effective IMC elected by farmers on a two-year term basis. The IMC is composed of the following members:

  1. Chairperson (currently a woman) and vice chairperson
  2. Secretary and vice secretary
  3. Treasurer
  4. Three committee members
  5. Member responsible for security

The IMC is responsible for the overall management of the scheme. It coordinates the maintenance of infrastructure, such as the pump and motor. It is responsible for collecting maintenance fees and money for payment of electricity bills. The IMC uses a system of bye-laws to ensure that all the scheme members follow the agreed activities. Those farmers that violate the bye-laws are punished in accordance with the scheme bye-laws and constitution. In most cases monetary fines are levied against offenders. Such money goes into the maintenance fund. The IMC is also responsible for reallocating vacated plots. Under the IMC, there is a crop production sub-committee which is responsible for drawing up cropping programmes in consultation with AGRITEX and the rest of the farmers, sourcing markets and enforcing pests and disease control by every farmer.

Electricity bills

The farmers pay the electricity bills. Every month the scheme receives a bill from ZESA, which the farmers share equally. For the 1997/98 production season the bills ranged from Z$ 2 200 to Z$ 13 200 per month. This translates to Z$ 100 to Z$ 600 per farmer per month. Farmers have been successful in the payment of the bills. Their management system has helped a lot in this respect. Any defaulter will have water cut off from his or her plot.

Repairs and maintenance

Farmers are responsible for the repairs and maintenance of infrastructure within their individual plots. Such infrastructure includes hydrants, laterals and sprinklers. For shared items, such as the pump and motor, the whole group is responsible. The IMC collects money from individuals for the necessary repairs. The farmers also do the maintenance of fencing. They make sure that the fence is always intact. If there is any problem to the fence, the IMC mobilizes the scheme members to rectify it.

The scheme also has a maintenance fund, which is kept in the bank. Each farmer contributes Z$ 2 500 per year towards this fund. With this fund farmers are able to meet most of their repair and maintenance costs. For example the farmers successfully replaced their motor when it got burnt four times between 1993 and 1997. Repair costs which were paid by the farmers ranged from Z$ 15 000 to Z$ 40 000.


The scheme has experienced thefts by people from nearby farms who steal items such as hoses, electric motor, sprinklers and crops. Scheme members decided to hire a guard whom they pay every month. The guard is paid Z$ 600 per month with contributions from scheme members. Currently the problems of theft at the scheme have ceased.

Institutional support

The scheme gets support from a number of institutions, including AGRITEX, the Horticultural Promotion Council (HPC), the Ministry of Local Government and other private companies.


AGRITEX is responsible for offering technical and extension advice to the irrigators. This institution helps the farmers in the formulation of cropping programmes and rotations and also assists in water management. AGRITEX is represented by an Extension Worker at the scheme. The Extension Worker visits the scheme once every week to give advice or to organize training programmes for the farmers. The Extension Worker is backstopped by an extension officer based at Macheke town and an Irrigation Specialist from the provincial AGRITEX office in Marondera. The Irrigation Specialist produces the irrigation schedules for the scheme. At the beginning of the scheme, farmers received numerous training programmes administered by AGRITEX. They were taken on study tours to other operating irrigation schemes. During these study tours the irrigators talked to their counterparts, getting advice on crops and their marketing, leadership skills and financial management. The Wenimbi irrigators acknowledged that these tours together with the training programmes were very useful. They were practically convinced that irrigation was the only panacea to their food and income problems.

Ministry of Local Government

This ministry is represented by a Resettlement Officer who acts as the overall administrator of the whole resettlement scheme. He deals with administrative problems such as lack of drinking water, disputes on the resettlement scheme. He is not directly involved with the running of the irrigation scheme, unless there are problems between the irrigators and outsiders. For example there was a problem between the irrigators and another water user upstream who did not want to release water to the Wenimbi farmers' weir. The Resettlement Officer was called in to mediate in the discussions.

Horticultural Promotion Council (HPC)

HPC is an organization involved in the export of horticultural crops. The organization contracts the Wenimbi farmers to grow crops such as peas and beans for export. The organization offers seed, technical advice, transport for the crops and it does the grading of the crop. Most farmers who have done business with the HPC have realized good returns.

Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC)

AFC used to offer assistance in the form of medium and seasonal term loans. In 1991, they financed the infield works through the NFIF. This was a government fund for irrigation development, which farmers could borrow from through the AFC at an interest of 9.75% (which is quite reasonable for the farmers). The Wenimbi farmers were given a total of Z$ 89 000 for 10 years. They were also given Z$ 3 000 each for inputs. Currently, the farmers are no longer getting assistance from AFC. They cited the current interests rates as prohibitive. They rely on proceeds from crops to finance the next season's crop inputs.

Agricultural performance

The agricultural performance of Wenimbi scheme was poor during the first two years of operation (1991 to 1992.) Although farmers managed to grow a variety of crops, like maize, wheat, onions, rape, carrots, cabbage and tomatoes, the yields were far below those expected. This was due to the poor performance of the diesel engine, which frequently broke down. The installation of an electric motor driven pump in 1992 was a turning point in the performance of the scheme. The irrigators rationalized their cropping pattern to focus on what they considered to be strategic crops with high returns. Tomatoes, green maize, grain maize and leaf vegetables became the major crops grown at the scheme and this cropping pattern has been maintained up to today. The typical cropping pattern for a farmer holding 1.5 ha plot at Wenimbi is given in Table 43.

Cropping pattern for a 1.5 ha plot at Wenimbi irrigation scheme (Source: Extension Worker's record book, 1998)

Crop Summer   Winter  
  Area (ha) Area as a % of plot size Area (ha) Area as a % of plot size
Tomatoes 0.750 50 0.375 25
Grain maize 0.375 25 0.375 25
Vegetables 0.375 25 0.750 50
Total 1.500 100    

Table 43 reflects a 150% cropping intensity at the scheme. The expected 200% cropping intensity can not be achieved because the scheme experiences water shortages in winter. A strong management, combined with use of the recommended rates of inputs, has resulted in high crop yields being obtained. Crop yields of selected crops obtained during the 1997 season are given in Table 44.

Irrigated crop yields for selected crops at Wenimbi irrigation scheme (Source: Farmers' and Extension Worker's record books, 1998)

Crops Expected yield* (tons/ha) Actual yield (tons/ha) Variation (%)
Tomatoes 25 30 +20%
Grain maize 6 7 +17%

*: Expected yield is the yield envisaged in the feasibility report.

The levels of inputs being used at the Wenimbi scheme are also summarized in Table 45. The fertilizer levels being used match the levels recommended by extension staff. This achievement is a direct indication of the commitment of the farmers. They have realized the benefits of irrigated agriculture

Average levels of inputs used at Wenimbi irrigation scheme (Source: Extension Worker's record book, 1998)

Crop Compound D Ammonium Nitrate Compound S
  Recommen-ded rate (kg/ha) Actual rate (kg/ha) Recommended rate (kg/ha) Actual rate (kg/ha) Recommended rate (kg/ha) Actual rate (kg/ha)
Maize 450 450 400 400 1000 1000
Green maize 450 450 400 400    
Tomatoes     600 500    
Rape     600 500    

The following is a brief description of the major crops grown at Wenimbi.


Tomatoes is the most lucrative crop on the scheme, but it is the most demanding in terms of labour and inputs. Farmers stagger the planting of the crop such that it does not mature all at once. Planting is done between September and November. The summer tomatoes are preferred because the crop matures when the market demand is high, which means high returns.

Green maize

Green maize is the major winter crop and is also the second most important in terms of income generation. The crop is normally planted in late July for the November market. Farmers have not experienced any problems in terms of marketing. Buyers come straight to the farm gate to buy the crop. They come with their own transport.

Grain maize

Grain maize is grown for home consumption and the local market. With an average maize yield of 7 tons/ha being obtained the scheme produces enough grain to feed the farmers and the surplus is sold to outsiders.


Vegetables grown include rape, cabbage and onions. These are grown on a relatively smaller scale, usually three to four lines per crop, and are grown throughout the year. The main reason behind this type of programme is to maintain a continuous inflow of cash to meet the electricity bills. Yields for these crops could not be established. However a visual assessment indicated excellent crop stands.

Commercial aspects

Input acquisition

Inputs are financed by incomes generated by selling the previous season's crop. The two main sources of inputs are a local dealer, located in Village 2 within the resettlement scheme, and several supermarkets in Harare town. Farmers prefer to buy from the local dealer due to the nearness of the dealer to the irrigation scheme. If they purchase from the dealer they do not have to worry about transport as they can simply use either a wheelbarrow or an ox drawn scotchchart to transport the inputs.


Mbare market in Harare town is the major market for most of the scheme's crops. The main crops sold at Mbare are vegetable and tomatoes. When going to Mbare farmers organize themselves into a group of say ten farmers, harvest their tomatoes or vegetables during the day and at night they hire a truck to the market. They sleep at the market place and at dawn they start selling. Prices are determined by supply and demand resulting in prices fluctuating on a daily basis.

The local market absorbs some of the vegetables produced at the scheme. Farmers from the surrounding villages within the resettlement scheme come to buy at the scheme. Green maize has no problems in terms of marketing. Buyers from as far as Mutare, Rusape, Wedza and Harare towns come straight to the scheme with their own transport to buy green maize. Green maize cobs are sold at prices determined by the irrigators. It is an offence for a farmer to sell cobs at a price lower than the agreed prices. Violators are normally fined a monetary fine. Grain maize is sold locally and some is retained for home consumption.


Farmers hire transport as a group to go to the market. They organize themselves in groups of say five to ten farmers depending on the crop which is going to be marketed. They share the costs for transport. Different groups do not go the same day. This is a risk aversion technique and a marketing strategy at the same time. The transport that ferries produce to the market is sometimes used to carry inputs on coming back.

Vehicles that are hired by the farmers come from as far as Marondera and Rusape towns. Farmers send representatives to search for vehicles. Four of the farmers at the scheme own a lorry each. These lorries were bought using income generated from the scheme. These lorries are usually preferred for hiring because they are cheaper.


Labour is hired from the surrounding community. Payment is either in cash or in kind. Labour is usually hired for activities such as planting, weeding and harvesting.

Farm income analysis

The incomes for the first two years of operation were low due to poor yields and the poor quality of produce. This was a direct result of frequent diesel engine breakdowns. According to the AGRITEX monitoring and evaluation report of 1992, the incomes were 50% of the expected. Due to the low incomes farmers could not meet their financial obligations like repayment of seasonal and medium term loans. After the installation of the electric pump, the farmer incomes derived from the scheme improved. In 1993 the average annual net income per farmer was Z$ 17 000 as opposed to the envisaged Z$ 15 000. This was due to the increased crop yields after the installation of a reliable pump. Between 1993 and 1997 the incomes from the scheme continued to rise as farmers gained more experience with irrigated crop production. In 1997, net annual incomes per farmer ranged from Z$ 60 000 to Z$ 150 000. The breakdown of the incomes and costs per farmer (1.55 ha) for the 1997 season is given in Table 46. Farmers were expecting much higher incomes during the 1998 season.

Incomes from irrigated cropping at Wenimbi irrigation scheme during the 1997 season (Source: Extension Worker's record book)

Crop Green maize Grain maize Tomatoes Leafy vegetables Total
Gross income (Z$) 16 400 4 000 62 950 16 050 99 400
Costs (Z$)   200 200 300 900
Seed 600 600 1 500 1 500 4 200
Fertilizer 100 100 2 000  400 2 600
Chemicals 200 200 1 000 600 2 000
Labour 300 300 2 000 2 000 4 600
Transport 1 400 1 400 6 700 4 800 14 300
Total Costs (Z$) 15 000 2 600 56 250 11 250 85 100
Gross margin (Z$) 40 000 6 933 150 000 30 000 3 600
Gross margin/ha (Z$)         2 500
Energy Costs (Z$)         79 000
Repair Costs (Z$)          
Net Income (Z$)          

Financial and economic analysis

Financial and economic analyses have been performed to assess the viability of the project. Financial analysis in particular examines the viability of the project from the point of view of the participants. It compares the benefits and costs associated with the project. Market prices are applied throughout the analysis. The analysis utilized the cash flows presented in Table 47. The cash flows include the average gross margins as of 1997. However, since it would be unrealistic to assume the same levels of productivity from the first year onwards, the gross margins are put at 50% for the first two years (have been lowered because of engine breakdowns), 90% in year 3 and 100% from year 4 onwards. Added to the cash flows are government savings on drought relief. The 1997 energy costs are also considered in the analysis (Z$ 300 per farmer per month). The repair and maintenance costs are derived from the Z$ 2 500 each farmer pays every year and the Z$ 1 000 per farmer on average for the maintenance of infield infrastructure. Added to these are the security guard wages of Z$ 600 per month. The replacements costs incurred from the start to 1997 have also been included. The investment costs have been annualized at 9.75% interest for 20 years. Extension, monitoring and evaluation costs have been included as cash outflows. All the costs and incomes have been deflated by a 20% inflation rate to give the estimates at 1990 prices. The whole analysis was subsequently done at constant 1990 prices. The FIRR was calculated and found to be 68%. If this is compared against the discount rate of 9.75% (interest rate on NFIF loans) the project is financially viable. The figure is even much higher than the 55%, which was envisaged in the feasibility study. This financial viability is due to higher yields, which has resulted in higher incomes. The FIRR could have been higher if the scheme had not experienced numerous engine breakdowns during the first two years.

Economic analysis assesses the project from the point of view of the society. Shadow prices, which reflect the real value of the project, are used in the analysis. To arrive at these prices, conversion factors have been used to adjust the financial prices. This adjustment is necessary to correct for market distortions, which are typical of an economy which was highly regulated up to the year 1990 when the government started implementing economic reforms. The opportunity cost of capital used is 8.5% (a rate recommended by the Zimbabwe's Ministry of Finance). The EIRR for the project is 71%. Since it is higher than the discount rate the project is economically viable.

Discounted cash flow analysis for Wenimbi irrigation scheme

Year Invest-ment costs (Z$) Energy costs (Z$) Replace-ment costs (Z$) Repairs & Maintenance (Z$) Dryland Income (Z$) extension & monitoring Costs (Z$) Irrigation income (Z$) Drought savings (Z$) Incremental benefit (Z$)
1990 25 462               -25 462 
1991 25 462 22103   23 499 110 516 150 000 261 248 8 841 -61 491 
1992 25 462 22 103   23 499 110 516 150 000 261 248 8 841 -61 491 
1993 25 462 22 103   23 499 110 516 150 000 470 247 8 841 147 508  
1994 25 462 22 103   23 499 110 516 150 000 522 497 8 841 199 757  
1995 25 462 22 103 6 028  23 499 110 516 150 000 522 497 8 841 193 729  
1996 25 462 22 103   23 499 110 516 150 000 522 497 8 841 199 757  
1997 25 462 22 103 11 163  23 499 110 516 150 000 522 497 8 841 188 594  
NPV                 410 965  
FIRR                 68%

Socio-economic impact

Wenimbi irrigation scheme is one of the successful smallholder irrigation schemes in Zimbabwe. Its successes are many and varied. Some of them are quantifiable while others are not. The successes are better illustrated from the point of view of the benefits that accrue to the participants, the surrounding areas and the national economy in general. The socio-economic impact of the scheme has been found to be in the following areas.

Crop diversification

The Wenimbi farmers are now able to grow high value crops both for the local and export markets, thus effectively participating in the main stream economy. Their dryland counterparts concentrate on grain maize and groundnuts, which are both low value crops. The large-scale production of high value horticultural crops is not possible under dryland conditions due to climatic limitations.

High yields

Irrigated agriculture produces substantially higher yields than dryland agriculture. Based on the monitoring and evaluation data for Wenimbi scheme from AGRITEX, the crop yields for maize which is grown under irrigation ranges from 6-9 tons/ha as compared to maize yields of 1-2 tons/ha under dryland. This shows that yields have gone up manifold with the introduction of irrigation at Wenimbi.

Human development

Wenimbi irrigators have developed a commercial mentality. This is indicated by the use of high levels of inputs by irrigators in comparison with dryland farmers. For example, irrigated farmers use 450 kg/ha per ha top dressing fertilizer for maize where as dryland farmers use on average 100 kg/ha. This difference reflects that irrigators are operating on commercial lines. The record books which are kept by each irrigator also explains how business minded these irrigators have become. Before joining the irrigation scheme none of the farmers kept records of their daily farming activities. Now they record all activities and financial transactions, which they carry out on the scheme. The hiring of labour is also a characteristic of business minded people. Each irrigator has opened a bank account in which he or she deposits all proceeds from crop marketing.

Employment creation

The scheme provides seasonal employment for people in the surrounding farms and dryland farmers in the Wenimbi resettlement areas. Hired labour is paid in cash or in kind or both. At the time of scheme visit, hired labour was being paid Z$ 20/day plus vegetables or grain. People prefer to work on Wenimbi scheme rather than in the neighbouring commercial farms. This is because the Wenimbi irrigators pay more money (Z$ 20/day as opposed to Z$ 15/day in commercial farms) and the working hours are less than in commercial farms.

The irrigation scheme also acts as an employer to the irrigators. The fact that only one male household head out of twenty male household heads works in town is an indication that the scheme is providing gainful employment. All the males interviewed on the scheme revealed that it is better to work on the scheme than to work in towns. The net average annual income of Z$ 79 000 per farmer, or Z$ 7 082 per month, is higher than the minimum wage of Z$ 1 400 per month paid to an unskilled worker in the Zimbabwean industry. From a broader perspective the irrigation scheme is vital in curbing the rural to urban drift.

Food security

The scheme is located in a relatively low rainfall area, Natural Region III, and acts as a source of food security during times of drought. In times of drought, non-irrigators come as far as Marondera and Rusape towns to buy grain maize from the scheme. The irrigators have not experienced any grain shortage like their dryland counterparts since 1993. The non-irrigators confirmed that they encounter food problems at least once in every three years. They have to rely on Wenimbi irrigation scheme for food.

Drought relief savings

The Wenimbi irrigation farmers are food self-sufficient. While their dryland counterparts often rely on food handouts from government this is not the case with the 22 irrigators on the scheme. By not providing drought relief to the irrigators and their families the government is making a huge financial saving. For example, in 1997 the government saved about Z$ 38 016 by not providing drought relief to the 22 farmers and their families being supported by Wenimbi irrigation scheme. This saving is based on the current drought relief monthly ration of 10 kg per person, and the then Grain Marketing Board (GMB) maize price of Z$ 2 400 per ton, an average family size of six persons and a six months drought relief provision per year. The above government saving only captures the cost of purchasing maize without even taking into account transportation costs, manpower costs and other logistical support required in the distribution of this relief packages. Obviously the saving would be higher if these costs are incorporated. In addition a complete drought relief package includes other commodities like beans which, if included, would double the drought relief requirement.


Irrigators have managed to acquire assets using incomes from the scheme. Four farmers on the irrigation scheme have managed to buy each a five-ton truck. Three other farmers now own small cars, which were also bought from scheme generated incomes. The lorries and the three small cars help in the ferrying of produce to the market. Only one out of the twenty two participants has no cattle and the average number of cattle per farmer on the scheme is five. Most of the farmers had no animals when they joined the scheme, but they managed to buy some from the scheme incomes. Twenty out of the twenty two irrigators have managed to build modern brick under asbestos houses. The other two farmers are still in the process of building such type of houses. Five percent of irrigators have TV sets in their houses. All the irrigators have managed to acquire farm implements like scotchcarts cultivators, ploughs and harrows.

Entrepreneurial skills

Irrigators have developed entrepreneurial skills over the years. The fact that they now can budget for their cropping activities, can manage their own affairs and can borrow and repay debts indicates that they have acquired useful skills by participating in the irrigation scheme.

Support to other industries

The scheme enhances business activities for the local dealer who supplies the scheme with inputs. The high value crops grown at Wenimbi require high levels of fertilizer and chemicals and these are mainly purchased from the local dealer. The local dealer confirmed that the greatest demand for inputs comes from the Wenimbi irrigation scheme more than from anywhere else. Transporters also benefit from the Wenimbi farmers who hire trucks to carry produce to the markets.


In conclusion it can be said that the Wenimbi smallholder irrigation scheme has been a success. This is clear testimony that smallholder irrigation schemes can be successfully operated and managed by the farmers themselves. The successes of Wenimbi are attributed to the following factors:

Good planning: The farmers themselves initiated the scheme. This was a bottom-up approach, with no external influence to accept the project. Scheme planning and implementation was done in full consultation with the farmers. This good planning has contributed to the smooth running of Wenimbi irrigation scheme.

Group cohesion: There is strong group cohesion as evidenced in scheme activities like marketing, maintenance of infrastructure, and payment of electricity bills. This cooperation among the farmers works in favour of the scheme.

Effective scheme management: There is an efficient and effective system of management in place, which maintains a tight control on scheme operations. Scheme bye-laws are enforced by the IMC and any violators are dealt with promptly.

Institutional support: The support given by AGRITEX and HPC are important for the scheme. AGRITEX offers the necessary training, extension services and backstopping which is important for the technical performance of the scheme. HPC supports the farmers in the production and marketing of high value export crops.

Training: Training and study tours organized for the farmers at the beginning of the scheme enhanced the farmers' skills in irrigated agriculture. The contractor who constructed the scheme also trained the farmers in the repair of pumps and infield infrastructure. Farmers have found all this training useful in the successful running of the scheme.

Land tenure: The system of land tenure and inheritance in place encourages farmers to invest in their irrigation plots. There are no land disputes in the scheme.

Infrastructure: The roads that link the scheme with other centres are in a good state, therefore transport operators do not shun the scheme.

Some factors that were acting against the smooth running of the scheme at the time of study were also identified. These are:

The study of Wenimbi scheme has also revealed several lessons that are important for the future planning and implementation of smallholder irrigation projects. Some of the most important lessons are:

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