Overview Objectives

Irrigation in Sub-Saharan Africa has had major difficulties providing an adequate return on investment, due to weak water governance institutions, weak market integration, and significant degradation and abandonment of irrigated land. Despite this, irrigation expansion is taking place within government schemes and through individual smallholder farmers. This project aims to increase the productivity of irrigation in Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe to enhance food security. It will use participatory on-farm monitoring of water applied; soil water, nitrate and salt; water tables and groundwater depth, to identify options for improving the water use. ‘Innovation Platforms’ will be established, comprising farmers, political representatives and players across the market value chain, to identify institutional and market constraints and to stimulate opportunities for change. Outputs will include documented options for improving water productivity and sustainability, methodology related to innovation platforms and adaptive learning, and policy options for improved water governance across various scales.

Progress Reports (Year 1, 2, 3 etc)

This report covers the first nine months of the project’s establishment and therefore outputs will start to be seen in the next reporting period. Overall, the project progress is following the initial plan and well on track.

Implementation activities
The agreement between ANU and ACIAR was finalised on the 18th June 2013 and the project has subsequently been established as reported here. All contracts with sub-contractors have been finalised and payments disbursed to project partners. Six monthly technical and financial reporting is underway. Project funded staff have all been recruited. Two key meetings were held. A successful project launch and inception workshop was held from the 19th-22nd of August 2013 in Maputo, Mozambique. Then on the 10-11th December 2013, a project planning meeting was held in Pretoria, South Africa.
During this period the countries assessed at least twelve irrigation sites, out of which two sites in each country were selected as pilot areas for the project. The annual project meeting is scheduled for 3rd-6th June 2014.

Objective 1: Agricultural innovation platforms.
During this phase Agriculture Innovation Platforms (AIP) country facilitation capacity has been developed with training and mentoring support being provided by ICRISAT. Initial workshops were held in all three countries, which provided the basis for the formation of the AIPs and initial assessments.
In Tanzania the first AIP meetings for Magozi and Kiwere irrigation schemes were held on the 20th-21st March 2014 in Iringa, with more than 50 stakeholders participating.
In Mozambique, the first AIP meetings were held from the 22nd-23rd April 2014 for the 25 de Setembro Cooperative and Khanimambo irrigation schemes and were attended by almost 100 stakeholders.
In Zimbabwe the initial AIP meetings for Silalatshani and Mkoba irrigation schemes were held in November 2013. As well as introducing the AIP process, the meetings identified preliminary challenges, opportunities and visions. Working groups were formed around a few of the challenges. The second AIP workshop for Mkoba was held on the 29th-30th of April 2014, while the second workshop will be held in Silalatshani in late May 2014. Given ICRISAT’s extensive experience with AIPs, the work has advanced most in Zimbabwe.
It is early days, but it is anticipated the AIPs will be used as a platform for introducing new knowledge and technologies identified during AIP process. Documentation of learning has occurred through workshop reports, and a project learning blog has been created.

Objective 2: Water and solute monitoring systems to stimulate greater water productivity.
Establishment of baseline conditions has been a key ongoing activity during this period. A format for the site situation analysis baseline was developed during the Pretoria planning meeting, and documentation of conditions at each scheme is on schedule for completion by September 2014. The process of establishing baselines of water, solute and soil conditions commenced in late 2013, and once the full range of tools have been produced and distributed additional data will be collected. Led by the UniSA with support from ICRISAT, a farm household survey has been developed and training of country enumerators along with project staff is currently ongoing. Two Australian based higher degree research students have commenced, adding capacity for this work.
Manufacturing and testing of soil water monitoring equipment is underway. Initial batches of water and solute monitoring tools were distributed in December 2013 to country project teams to enhance their familiarity with the equipment and enable preliminary data collection. Capacity building of country researchers was conducted in February 2014 in Bulawayo; more detailed work with the trained country researchers on the initial equipment installation and data collection is now proceeding. Water and solute monitoring equipment for target farmers at each irrigation site is currently being produced.
The aim is for information from water and solute monitoring data collection and the AIP platforms to be used to implement better management practices and techniques.

Objective 3: Economic and policy incentive mechanisms.
This objective will be further developed later in the project based on work on the objectives 1 & 2. To date a work plan has been developed for using AIP outputs as the basis for determining policy incentives-which can be taken to regional scale. Work on component three to date includes: input into structuring and staffing AIP implementation; input into the “Irrigation Site Data Collection” protocol; development and distribution of a gender check list for AIPs and field work; and collection of Mozambique and Tanzanian national irrigation policy documents.

As of 31 May 2015 the project is making good progress as follows:
Implementation activities
The first annual review meeting was held 3 to 6th June 2014 in Iringa, Tanzania. The project has experienced a few staff changes but all teams have the necessary staff employed. The project was varied by agreement with ACIAR in October 2014 to enhance socio-economic analysis and capacity building with African partners.
Objective 1: Agricultural innovation platforms
Significant progress was achieved and initial project-related successes are evident.
Established AIPs - All six AIPs are established. International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid-Tropics (ICRISAT) staff have mentored both the Tanzanian and Mozambican project teams.
AIP baseline assessments - Building on the first AIP meetings (reported previously), scoping, visioning and initial plans; several interim activities have been undertaken. Second AIP meetings were held in each country, and where necessary new stakeholders have been involved. These meetings have been used to: recap and review progress; report on achievements; clarify priorities; develop annual work plans; identify roles and responsibilities; and develop working arrangements between the stakeholders. Site profiles have been completed.
Innovations for change - Through the AIPs stakeholders are identifying a range of actions to pursue, including: knowledge (e.g. irrigation scheme management in Tanzania and Zimbabwe); new technologies (e.g. rice milling machine in Magozi, conservation agriculture in Mkoba, use of organic fertility amendments in Silalatshani, infrastructure repair in 25 de Setembro and other tools for efficient irrigation scheduling); finance (e.g. access to micro-finance providers in Kiwere); market linkages in all sites (e.g. a plan to link tomato producers in Iringa (including Kiwere) with the newly constructed tomato factory); policies, including those on land ownership and water payments (e.g. Silalatshani success working with Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) to reduce the farmer’s water bill from around $250,000 to $80,000); sourcing genuine inputs (seeds, fertilisers) in place of ‘fake’ ones in Tanzania; and mindsets (e.g. changes in irrigation scheduling, described below).
Documenting learning - As part of a Before-After Control-Impact (BACI) study site baseline conditions were established based on surveys conducted in mid-2014, with considerable support from University of South Australia (UniSA). In-country data analysis capacity gaps were identified and addressed. The reports are now being finalised, and the findings will be discussed in forthcoming AIPs. Further data collection occurred in early 2015 with focus group discussions at each site. An open access special issue reporting on the initial outcomes from the project will be published in the International Journal of Water Resources Development (IJWRD) in late 2015 / early 2016.
Objective 2: Water and solute monitoring systems.
Similarly there has been good progress on this objective.
Baseline conditions of water and solute resources have been documented in the baseline reports of the three countries (that will be synthesized in the IJWRD publication). Results of soil analysis have been received from Zimbabwe, and are expected from Mozambique and Tanzania in the coming weeks. This shows low soil fertility, and in particular low phosphorus and nitrogen levels. Efforts to address these yield-limiting conditions will be the immediate focus of field activities.
Water and solute monitoring - University of Pretoria (UP) has continued to manufacture and test Chameleon sensors. The required water and solute monitoring equipment has been provided to all three countries including: pocket EC meters, nitrate test strips, Full Stop Wetting Front Detectors (WFD), Chameleon sensors and readers. These tools have been mostly installed; data has been received from Tanzania, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Improved management - On-site monitoring is leading to improved management in some cases. In both Mozambique and Tanzania, some farmers who use the WFD and Chameleon sensors report that they have reduced the irrigation frequency, for a couple of reasons including overwatering and the loss of nitrates. In Magozi, an irrigation calendar has been adopted to improve management. In Zimbabwe soil fertility management demonstration plots have been established.
Collate results to support AIP - Monitoring data will be synthesised for discussion at the next AIP meetings across all three countries.
Objective 3: Economic and policy incentive mechanisms.
Progress has been slower as Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) has experienced two staff changes. A number of key policy issues have been identified. In terms of national policy, Mozambique is in a process of approving the legal framework related to water users associations. In Tanzania, one policy priority identified in the AIPs will be to reduce ‘fake’ agricultural inputs. In Zimbabwe, as a result of the AIPs, the ZINWA revision of farmer water billing at one project scheme could have national implications. FANRPAN are drafting a policy synthesis paper for the journal special issue that will be presented at the ICRISAT African irrigation symposium in July 2015.

This report details the status and progress of the research project on “Increasing irrigation water productivity in Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe through on-farm monitoring, adaptive management and agricultural innovation platforms” (FSC-2013-006) for the period February to June 2016.

In March 2016, a whole of project “mid-term” report was submitted. ACIAR conducted a comprehensive external mid-term project review in April 2016 which included visits to each country and interviewing a wide range of stakeholders. The review findings supported the current research activities, highlighted many successes, and recommended that ACIAR and the project team address a number of issues to build on considerable progress to date. In response new research has commenced (detailed in Annex 1), particularly for greater gender and other equity. The review report concluded that the project: “has enabled smallholder farmers and related stakeholders to achieve success in a traditionally difficult sector, which is also currently a top priority for African governments and international donors.”

Details of those recommendations and our responses are contained in this report. As a result of the review one suggestion was that ACIAR consider a second phase of this research project and an initial concept note has been approved, and a preliminary proposal will be developed by the end of September 2016.

In project research subsequent to the mid-term review, learning workshops were held in all countries to support the objectives. Progress on the agricultural innovation platform objective has focused on capacity building of partners, and further developing links with markets. For the water and solute management objective, all project activities and outputs/milestones are either completed or progressing as planned. Discussions with farmers confirmed that water and solute monitoring have been very beneficial, and areas to refine approaches to data collection were identified. The policy objective is also on track, albeit differently in each country due to local challenges and opportunities.

The project is having considerable beneficial impacts, with the participating farmers:
1. Reducing the frequency of watering considerably, and as a result;
2. Seeing less leaching and thus more efficient use of fertilisers, and;
3. Saving considerable labour time that is being invested back into agricultural, other income generating and social activities;
4. Achieving considerable increase in crop yield; and
5. Enjoying greater social harmony among farmers and within households.

Knowledge gained from the first two years has been synthesised into nine research papers that are accepted or in review for the International Journal of Water Resources Development.
Our goal in our final year is to leverage these successes to start achieving spill over.

Project ID
Project Country
Inactive project countries
Commissioned Organisation
Australian National University, Australia
Project Leader
Dr Jamie Pittock
6125 5563
Collaborating Institutions
CSIRO Land and Water, Australia
University of South Australia, Australia
Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network, South Africa
University of Pretoria, South Africa
National Institute of Irrigation, Mozambique
Ardhi University, Tanzania
International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, Zimbabwe
Project Budget
Start Date
Finish Date
ACIAR Research Program Manager
Dr Evan Christen