Unravelling the potential of farmer led irrigation development

The Problem

Farmer led innovation processes in irrigated agriculture are poorly understood despite their substantial contribution to rural and economic development, food security and poverty alleviation. Research in Mozambique suggests that over 100,000 hectares of irrigated agriculture have been developed by small Mozambican farmers, often through local initiatives and innovations. Most of which are not recognized/invisible by/to the private sector, donors, and governments.

The Research

The project aims to contribute to a better understanding of the processes, triggers and impacts of these developments through: a) the co-production of innovative research and assessment methodologies, b) the identification of key (f)actors that either facilitate and/or constrain these developments and c) the development of effective strategies and tools that foster and strengthen the unrealized potentials of smallholder entrepreneurship and their engagement with the private and public sector. The results will be of great relevance for interventions aimed at catalysing Mozambique’s irrigated agro-productive sector.

The Conclusion

Farmer-led irrigation takes place in a vibrant setting, through informal networks:

· Consequently, remains mostly of radar and therefore under estimated and appreciated.

· Suffers from a technology bias in formal policy setting that further disregards what is visible.

Possible modes of engagement with the FIAD-sector:

Support to existing (informal) farmer networks through:

Farmer training, subsidies/credits for inputs, extension

Small technical improvements on existing irrigating farmers practices

Support to existing (informal) trader networks through: Market and value chain development, information services, credit facilities,

These are open doors but as long as the FIAD sector remains unrecognized:

Formal efforts remain focused on creating this new “enabling environment” instead of working with the existing informal sector

We propose a redirect not a complete change of policy