Analysis of water use productivity among smallholder Homestead Food Gardening and irrigation crop farmers in the North-West Province, South Africa
Tshwene, Seleke Christopher
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The study analysed water use productivity among smallholder homestead food gardening and irrigation crop farmers in the North West province, South Africa. Home gardening and irrigation constitute the most important rural development investment strategies that can have direct impact on poverty and food security. Using a large sample size technique of n>30, 160 gardeners were selected for the study. Data was collected using a structured questionnaire and subjected to analysis using SPSS. Frequency counts and percentages were used to describe demographics. Multiple regressions were also used to identify determinants. The independent variables were significantly related with an F value of 3.074, P < .05. Also, an R value of 0.506 showed that there is a strong correlation between socio-economic characteristics and water use productivity. The results further predicted R Square 26% of the variation in water use productivity. Five out of sixteen were significant, with three variables being significant at 5% (type of crop, social participation and market outlet) while two variables were significant at 10% (home food security and attitude). Significant determinants of water use productivity were type of cropping (t =-2.443, P =.016), social participation (t =2.599, P = .010), marketing outlets (t = 2.810, P = .006), home food security (t=-1.777, P = .078) and attitude (t = -1.727, P = .086). The results imply that the higher attitude, marketing, home food security, social participation and type of crop, the higher the use of water productivity among farmers. However, insignificant determinants of water use productivity were farming experience (t = 0.571, p=0.569), education (t = -1.048, p = 0.296), land ownership (t = -1.416, p = 0.159) and age (t = -0. 782, p = 0.436). The results imply that the lower the farming experience, education skill, land ownership and age, the lower the water productivity use among farmers. Increasing agricultural productivity benefits the poor and landless through employment opportunities as majority of poor people lives in rural areas and derive their livelihood directly from agriculture, support for farming must be a high priority for rural development. Strengthening and upgrading rural education and training can have a positive result in addressing the knowledge, skills and information gaps that exit for farmers. Irrigation plays a pivotal role in improvement of rural livelihood, but often characterised by inefficient water use, high capital and recurrent cost, lack of sustainability and inequity in the distribution of land. Government and other stakeholders including homestead gardeners in irrigation need a better understanding of the role of irrigation in improving the role of irrigation in improving and sustaining rural livelihood. The study among others recommend that home gardeners should be trained in the use of a wide range of irrigation systems, water management, marketing, general management, operation and maintenance of their plots and irrigation schemes and that there should be continuous monitoring by Departments such as the North West Department of Agriculture as it will provide response to farmers and assists them in improving their performance.