A case study of the impact of irrigation on household food security in two villages in Chingale, Malawi
This case study investigated the impact of irrigation on household food security at Ibu and Kalizinje villages in Chingale, Malawi. The aim of the study was to investigate whether irrigation improved household food security. The study was qualitative in nature. Fifty-eight farmers and three World Vision field staff participated in the study. Group discussions with participatory techniques and in-depth interviews were used to collect data. Data were analysed qualitatively using matrix/logical analysis. Irrigation improved irrigating farmers’ household food security through an increase in production and income levels. Irrigating farmers were better off in terms of crop production and income levels than non-irrigating farmers. Irrigating farmers planted irrigated maize two to three times a year, while non-irrigating farmers planted rain-fed maize only once a year. In terms of income levels, irrigating farmers produced more food than households required, and sold surpluses. Most irrigating farmers began cash cropping after the introduction of irrigation and also earned higher incomes, as irrigation enabled production of crops during lean periods and enabled them to sell surpluses at higher prices. Irrigation did not improve crop diversification. Non-irrigating farmers diversified crops more than irrigating farmers by planting groundnuts and sweet potatoes. Income from irrigating farmers did not increase dietary diversity and the acquisition of assets for irrigating farmers. Few farmers consumed a variety of foods and few acquired assets with the income derived from irrigation. Nevertheless, irrigation has the potential to smooth production cycles and provide food and income during seasons when food and income would be low. In addition, the study revealed the following as problems faced by farmers: constraining size of small diesel pumps, pump breakdown at Kalizinje, floods, pests and diseases, storage problems, lack of market places and poor roads, small land sizes, and expensive farm inputs.
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