South African Journal of Agricultural Extension

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Adoption of irrigation technology to combat household food insecurity in the resource-constrained farming systems of the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa

M Christian, A Obi, I.K. Agbugba


Sustainable water management has been identified as a powerful tool to combat persistent food insecurity in South Africa’s poor rural communities. The irrigation revitalisation scheme was launched in the first decade of post-Apartheid South Africa and focused on smallholder farmers in the former homeland areas. However, the adoption of irrigation technology has been limited, while official data point to worsening poverty rates and food insecurity as agricultural output declines in the face of rising prices. There is thus strong policy interest to ascertain the circumstances in which irrigation adoption can be enhanced. A cross-sectional research design was utilised to collect data from 200 farmers (adopters and non-adopters) selected through a combination of purposive and stratified sampling methods. Probit regression results suggest that irrigation adoption is influenced by distance to the irrigation scheme, age of the farmer, family size, credit access, extension contact, and group membership. Water management programmes that address community access to irrigation water are likely to enhance adoption of irrigation technology, with credit access and extension provided to ensure sustainable use of the technology.

Keywords: Eastern Cape, Extension services, Food insecurity, Irrigation adoption,
Smallholder farmers

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