American Journal of Rural Development
ISSN (Print): 2333-4762 ISSN (Online): 2333-4770 Website: Editor-in-chief: Chi-Ming Lai
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American Journal of Rural Development. 2016, 4(2), 43-48
DOI: 10.12691/ajrd-4-2-2
Open AccessArticle

Smallholder Farmers’ Willingness to Invest in Irrigation Schemes in Dedza, Malawi

Emily McNulty1, , Thea Nielsen1 and Manfred Zeller1

1Rural Development Theory and Policy, Hans-Ruthenberg Institute, University of Hohenheim Stuttgart 70593, Germany

Pub. Date: July 13, 2016

Cite this paper:
Emily McNulty, Thea Nielsen and Manfred Zeller. Smallholder Farmers’ Willingness to Invest in Irrigation Schemes in Dedza, Malawi. American Journal of Rural Development. 2016; 4(2):43-48. doi: 10.12691/ajrd-4-2-2


As governments look to alleviate their budgets and encourage local management of natural resources, interest in irrigation management transfer (IMT) has grown. IMT is the handover of control and ownership of an irrigation system from a public sector entity to a private sector organization. With Malawi’s ineffective irrigation systems, burgeoning population density, and strained water resources, IMT is an attractive option for policy makers. Planners of upcoming IMT projects must thoroughly investigate the willingness of farmers to invest in irrigation schemes, and use the findings to create realistic expectations for all IMT stakeholders. This paper analyzes the willingness of smallholder farmers to invest capital and unpaid labor in the construction, maintenance, and management of four types of irrigation schemes. A high willingness to invest in hypothetical irrigation schemes, in some cases, is explained by a greater household labor endowment, a higher education level, a higher elevation, a stronger social network, and the perception that irrigation is important to yield. These findings could be used as a basis for IMT budget estimates, but are not a substitute for in-depth research in particular areas where IMT is planned. Policy makers are encouraged to tailor IMT projects to individual households’ abilities to invest capital, unpaid labor, or a combination of the two.

irrigation management transfer willingness to pay water resource investment unpaid labor Malawi

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