Factors Influencing the Performance Of Smallholder Irrigation Schemes in Nyanza Province: A Case of South West Kano Nyando, Kenya

Irrigation is the controlled application of water for agricultural purposes. It is necessary when rainfall is insufficient to meet the water requirements for crops throughout their growing period. There are over 250million ha globally under irrigation with Nyanza province only having 7264 ha despite the fact that agriculture is the backbone of the economy. Irrigation practice uses different technologies and management approaches. Smallholder irrigation is an approach to implementation of irrigation schemes where beneficiaries initiate; manage; operate and own the irrigation scheme themselves. This study sought to assess the factors that influence the performance of smallholder irrigation schemes in Nyanza province with specific reference to South West Kano irrigation project.It specifically considered water management, scheme funding, farmers' organization, land suitability and stakeholder participation which were found to be priority in the operation of south west Kano irrigation project. The study used descriptive survey research design and targeted over 2998 farmers within the 36 schemes making the South West Kano irrigation Project. Probability sampling was used to select 10 schemes which produced a sample of 120 respondents to participate in the study. Questionnaires, participant observation and document analysis were used to collect data while descriptive analysis was used to analyze the collected data. The study found out that the water source for irrigation have not been fully exploited thus resulting in artificial shortage for all the water uses. Farmers in the irrigation schemes met most of their farming financial requirement by mobilizing their own sources although there is over reliance on the government to provide development resources. The farmers" organization in place has not been operating on their rules resulting in laxity among its members when dealing with important scheme matters. The study concluded that the scheme is underperforming and recommended for a concerted effort to provide an enabling environment where the local resources land and water can be sustain ably be used. Group bye laws should be reviewed so as to make them enforceable. Appropriate technology for farm operations and seed bulking should be identified so as to bring down the cost of irrigation. Furthermore, the success of smallholder irrigation management approach should be determined with respect to Nyanza conditions and the different crop enterprises.