Comparative analysis of different irrigation technologies and water management techniques for dry season cultivation of beans (Phaseolus Vulgaris) in Chingale ADP in Zomba, Southern Malawi
Nine water management techniques using five irrigation technologies were studied in Chingale Area Development Program (ADP) in Zomba district in Southern Malawi. The technologies used encompassed motorised pumps, treadle pumps, water cans, gravity irrigation and one non-irrigated treatment. The treatments under study were according to method of abstraction, conveyance and application of water.
The study found that bean crop performance is not influenced by the method of water management but the amount of water applied owing to the significant relationship established when grain yield was released with irrigation depth. Results on water management methods have shown that:
- treadle pumps were used where there are rivers or lakes with relatively low heads and have sufficient discharge rate
- motorised pumps were used at relatively higher heads in large rivers, at low labour supply but with very high discharge rate
- gravity irrigation was used where a river is flowing on the upland.
The results on the farmers side were that:
- farmers using treadle pumps faced complex labour requirements
- those using motorised pumps needed to have enough financial acumen in order to meet exorbitant fuel and lubrication costs
- the use of water cans was the most laborious and cumbersome technology compared to the rest of the technologies
- motorised pumps gave negative gross margins regardless of the yield level.
Finally, the study recommends:
- farmers in Chingale ADP need support systems in order to break-even for they may not afford fuel and maintenance at the onset
- motorised pumps should be encouraged where there are large rivers with very high lifts but the farmers need capital support systems in order to break even otherwise the farmers may not afford fuel and maintenance costs at the onset
- motorised pumps can be shared amongst a group of progressive farmers or used to irrigate larger areas because they pump more water at low labour demand and thus can meet the requisite crop water requirements unlike the use of water cans and some of the treadle pump treatments which were laborious and gave relatively low bean yields.