This article focuses on irrigation agriculture as a critical adaptation strategy to climate change and population pressure in Africa. Smallholder irrigation schemes have been prioritised as a rural development model by many developing countries in the past five decades. However, the majority of the irrigation schemes have remained unsustainable and contributed very little towards the attainment of food security and poverty alleviation for the farmers. The study therefore unravels the underlying factors affecting the sustainability of smallholder irrigation schemes in Zimbabwe. A mixed research method, with a combination of the questionnaire survey, focus group discussion and key informant interviews.. The findings underscored farmers’ productivity levels and input utilisation pattern as largely subsistence farmers who were unable to create sufficient demand to sustain a viable input supply chain. The study also demonstrates that fertilizers and hybrid seeds were not affordable for the majority of the farmers. The input supply market was not responsive to the spatial, temporal and package needs of farmers. The exclusion of farmers from the financial market allayed any hopes of breaking the underproduction cycles in the schemes. Thus, the study recommends that all the intervention in the input supply chain focus on transferring the purchasing power to poor farmers.
Key words: Input market, Market for the Poor (M4P), smallholder, irrigation scheme