Development agencies enthusiastically promote micro-drip irrigation as an affordable water and labor-saving device, yet most farmers stop using it as soon as development projects end. This article analyzes why farmers engage in projects promoting drip irrigation kits, even though they appear not to be interested in their water and labor-saving attributes. We combine practice-based theories of innovation with insights from the anthropology of development to explain that in development project arenas, micro-drip kits have different meanings for farmers than for the actors promoting the technology. Accepting the technology is just one element of more encompassing strategic efforts by farmers to obtain benefits from development projects. Hence, in the arena of the development project and for farmers, micro-drip kits are defined by the side benefits that accompany their introduction, such as motorized pumps, free inputs, the promise of credit, or the prospect of acquiring social prestige and forging new alliances.
- drip irrigation
- Sub-Saharan Africa