Zimbabwe, Anticipation of Economic and Humanitarian Needs: White and Black Irrigation in Rhodesia
The uncertainty of the Rhodesian situation makes it extremely difficult to project or make recommendations for irrigated agriculture. This paper discusses environmental conditions, African irrigation, European irrigation, regional development, and recommendations. The African irrigation projects are rooted in the earliest decades of white occupation, have been there a long time, and have not expanded much. They are firmly embedded in the landscape and the regional economy and will probably survive. New investment in small holder irrigation projects must consider carefully the long-term viability of such projects, their ability to repay investment capital, and their contribution to the national economy and development. Their potential role of stimulating the regional economy in remote areas should be considered in formal assessment. The greatest opportunities for African agricultural settlement exist in the underutilized European farms of the high rainfall areas, not in irrigation development areas. The future operation of the irrigated estates has several options: continuation in the hands of the private companies of government takeover as state farms or cooperative management by the work force. The regional economy and the population dependent on it demand that lowveld development be maintained at its present level. Additional investments demand careful analysis before capital resources are committed. Irrigation investment is not the most profitable use of scarce capital resources, nor will it show great social benefits. The high rainfall areas of the Rhodesian highland ought to provide ample scope for the future of Zimbabwe.