The purpose of this study was to evaluate the economic contribution of irrigation to productivity of horticultural crops in semi-arid areas/districts of Kirinyaga and Murang'a Kenya, and to evaluate economic variables such as income, employment in relation to gender issues. A random sample of 140 small-scale farmers was. interviewed using a structured pretested questionnaire for cropping season 199111992. Ninety percent of small-scale farmers were growing irrigated horticultural crops. 11ze average family size was 4. 0 persons. Furrow irrigation was used by 65 % of farmers. Other irrigation systems such as sprinklers, bucket and general flooding were also used. Forty seven percent of respondents were males and 38 % were females. 11ze average income from horticultural production was Ksh. 35,363 and Ksh. 15,279 for female and male farmers respectively. 11ze wage rate was the same for male and female ranging between Kshs. 25 to Kshs. 35 per day. The decision making on growing horticultural crops, expenditure, marketing and food reserved for home consumption were jointly made. 111e major problems expressed were water shortage, markets, extension services, and capital and credit facilities. In conclusion, the small-scale irrigation scheme is contributing by ensuring household food security and sustainable development in the rural areas. 11ze study made recommendations that problems encountered be addressed by, for instance, providing credit facilities and extension services.


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