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S Mutambara

International Journal of Agricultural Policy and Research
ISSN 2350-1561
Vol.4 (12), pp. 256-270, December 2016
Available online at
Article 16/ID/JPR052/14/ pages
Author(s) agree that this article remain permanently open access under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 International License.

Original Research Article

Smallholder irrigation farmers’ financial exclusion in Zimbabwe: A resilience threat

Solomon Mutambara

Department of Environmental Science, University of Botswana Private Bag 0022, Gaborone

Author’s E-mail: muhwahwati(at)

date Received: May 27, 2016     date Accepted: July 20, 2016     date Published: December 16, 2016


Smallholder rural farmers in Zimbabwe have a long history of financial exclusion since the pre-independence period. This study aims to establish the factors behind smallholder farmers’ financial exclusion and how that has been impacting on the resilience of smallholder irrigation schemes. A mixed research approach, involving a questionnaire, key informant interviews, FGDs and observations was used for the study. The study found that over 70% of the farmers had no bank account and this was a major barrier to access bank loan and 74% had no access to bank loans. Farmers had bad experiences with financial institutions, attesting to the extractive engagement of farmers by financial institutions. Lack of faithfulness of smallholder farmers in loan repayments was preventing banks and input suppliers from extending credit lines to farmers. Some farmers could not access loans because the only assets they had, cattle and land, could not be accepted as collateral by financial institutions. Financial institutions were also not offering financial products that were compatible with the farmers’ needs and contextual requirements of the poor farmers. The Government interference, the poor water management and lack of vibrant farmers’ union made the majority of the irrigation schemes risky entities for financial inclusion. The study recommended that financial policies need to provide market-based incentives for delivery of sustainable financial access and usage of affordable and pro-poor services to farmers. Efforts should also be made to develop and engender financial literacy and financial capability amongst the smallholder farmers.

Key words: Financial exclusion, smallholder farmer, smallholder irrigation schemes, resilience