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South African Journal of Agricultural Extension

Print version ISSN 0301-603X

Abstract

STEVENS, J.B.  and  NTAI, P. J.. The role of extension support to irrigation farmers in Lesotho. S Afr. Jnl. Agric. Ext. [online]. 2011, vol.39, n.2, pp. 104-112. ISSN 0301-603X.

Lesotho has plenty of water resources which could be used to improve the livelihoods of Basotho as a nation in many aspects. However, this seems not to be the case as Lesotho suffers from food security mostly during severe droughts, to an extent of seeking support from international communities. The purpose of this paper is to elaborate on the very important role extension support should play in the practising of sustainable irrigation farming by smallholders. A structural questionnaire was administered amongst 153 irrigation farmers and 31 extension officers randomly in the four southern districts of Lesotho, namely Maseru, Mafeteng, Mohale's Hoek and Quthing. Extension credibility is highly questionable as 70% of irrigation farmers do not regard extension as important for irrigation management decisions. Although extension workers are generally well qualified, no in-service training is offered to help with the skilling of extensionists regarding irrigation management. Consequently the extension workers consider them not competent to provide support for irrigation farming. These results suggest the need for greater political and institutional input in irrigation farming; in particular there is a need to revisit institutional policy instruments and institution for extension, technical assistance, training and credit services that will facilitate performance of irrigation farming in Lesotho.

Keywords : extension support; smallholder irrigation; training; competencies.

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