Small-Scale Irrigation and Production Efficiency among Vegetable Farmers in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa: The DEA Approach

Douglas Kibirige, Ajay S. Singh, Lovemore M. Rugube


Despite the establishment and revitalization of small-scale irrigation schemes, input subsidies and tractor hire schemes in the rural Eastern Cape Province of South Africa productivity among small-scale farmers is recorded low and anticipated to decline. For survival, small-scale farmers have resorted to cultivating high value crops including vegetables. However, their vegetable productivity is far less than the estimated potential yields, and information regarding their production efficiency is limited. Therefore, this study was aimed at determining farmer’s production efficiency to generate meaningful information necessary for designing feasible pro-poor policies aimed at catalysing increased the productivity and rural household incomes. The study was carried out at Qamata and Tyefu irrigation schemes, and approximately 158 farmers were interviewed. The Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) approach was used to generate results. The findings in this article indicated that most farmers are old aged with low literacy levels. Farmers were also allocating few hectares of land for cabbage production with far less application of fertilizers and pesticides compared to the recommended amounts. Farmers at Qamata and Tyefu irrigation schemes are technically, allocatively and economically efficient at 98%, 72% and 77% level, respectively. Thus, for improving the productivity, farmers need to maintain the same technologies and adjust on the amounts of fertilizers, seeds and pesticides used for improving allocative and economic efficiency. Results suggested that this can be achieved through encouraging more youth participation in farming, improved input-agronomic and agribusiness skills, catalysing processes of land reforms, and construction of more dams.

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Copyright (c) 2019 Douglas Kibirige, Ajay S. Singh, Lovemore M. Rugube

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Journal of Agricultural Studies   ISSN 2166-0379


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