The main crops that grow in the area – lucerne, potato, groundnut, maize, oats and barley – are difficult to grow profitably, hence the negative perception. Changes needed to be made, to ensure the financial survival of the farmers in the Upper Orange River Catchment through increased productivity as well as reduce the amount of water withdrawn. The approach taken includes a legal and institutional reform driving the establishment of a self-sufficient Water User Association, advanced metering and the establishment of a virtual water bank, targeted stakeholder consultations and modernization of the irrigation infrastructure and management systems.
At a capital cost of US$250,000, the project successfully improved productivity in terms of crop per drop with average yield across the scheme increasing by approximately 25%, long-term financial sustainability of the irrigation scheme, and a total annual irrigation demand reduction of 7 percent, from 187,600,000m3 to 174,400,00m3. The project further empowered those involved with the Water Use Associations in the area, through capacity building and an increased understanding of water issues within local decision making.