The role of irrigation policies in expanding irrigated food production in Mozambique.
In recognition of the crucial role irrigation plays in stabilizing agriculture production in the face of erratic rainfall that often affects Mozambique, the Government has, since national independence in 1975, implemented several policies regarding irrigation development. Yet, the country is still struggling to expand the area equipped for food crop irrigation. In particular, the formulation and implementation of irrigation policies has faced constraints in the expansion and effective use of irrigated land to ensure increased food production. Despite this, there has not been a systematic effort to consistently document and identify constraints and enablers of irrigation policies and development in to support evidence-based policy dialogue and interventions. This study intends to fill this gap. It does this through an analytical historical trajectory of the irrigation subsector, paying particular attention to critical factors affecting the effectiveness of irrigation policies in contributing to the expansion and effective use of irrigated land to enhance agriculture’s contribution to food production and food security in Mozambique. A qualitative approach is employed in which a review of the existing literature and official documents, along with secondary data collection, is augmented with interviews of key informants and expert opinions. The analysis posits that the ability of irrigation policies to effectively contribute to an expansion and improvement of irrigated production can be enhanced through addressing issues of policy weaknesses, limited investment resources to expand irrigated land, inadequate public institutional support to the irrigation subsector, especially at field level, limited involvement of the private sector in irrigation, weak farmers’ organizations (FOs) and water users associations (WUAs) on irrigated land as well as weak information and knowledge generation and sharing among relevant stakeholders. These issues are particularly pertinent in light of the anticipated implementation of the 2010 Irrigation Strategy. The role, cooperation and partnerships among Government, private sector, FOs/WUAs and development partners need to be taken into account in the formulation and implementation of public irrigation policies. Overall, it is important to note that the success of irrigation depends critically on other agriculture sector-wide policies, suggesting that it is important to have a comprehensive agricultural development policy in place.
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