Farmer-initiated irrigation furrows: observations from the eastern highlands
van der Zaag, Pieter
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Important for the contemporary debate in relation to irrigation development in Zimbabwe is the realisation that during colonial times and after independence, informal irrigation furrows were constructed and operated by smallholder farmers. This is in spite of active discouragement by government apparatus for the greater part of this century. This chapter provides some evidence of the worth and spread of ‘informal’ irrigation furrows in the Eastern Highlands. Such furrows should be recognised for their important productive capacities, and for the pool of managerial experience to which they give rise. We argue here that a lot can be learnt by a close examination of these furrows. The preliminary findings presented in this chapter, though limited to the Eastern Highlands, hint at their potential, and have relevance for the impending changes of the Water Act, the de-centralisation of the water sector embodied in the new Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA), and for the turning over of financial and water management responsibilities in government- initiated schemes to farmers.