Agricultural engineering graduate has high hopes for the future

DURBAN – Tinashe Lindel Dirwai received a Master’s degree in Agricultural Engineering at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s (UKZN) Westville campus on Wednesday.

Dirwai’s research focused on improving water productivity and uncovering new water management strategies to sustain smallholder irrigation farming.

With the rise in food insecurity experienced in Africa in recent years, Dirwai believes that smallholder irrigation schemes are key to attaining food security at village and small-scale farming level.

“My desire to diagnose the underlying factors that hinder growth and development drive my passion for poverty alleviation,” said Dirwai.

His research focused on water governance in smallholder irrigation schemes with the major problem identified being poor institutional integration.

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The study also revealed that smallholder irrigation schemes do not exist in a vacuum. “There is an idealized governance and there are arrangements that work,” said Dirwai. “So if recommendations from the study are taken up, we can slowly and ultimately move towards an approach where we have hybridised smallholder irrigation scheme governance models that balance the formal and informal policy arrangements.”

He is currently enrolled for a PhD in UKZN’s School of Engineering.

Dirwai has published three journal articles, and has received the Best Young Scientist Presenter Award under the Water Governance theme, at the Waternet Regional Symposium in Namibia (2017) and Zambia (2018) respectively.

Sharing his recipe for academic success, Dirwai said: “It’s never easy but the trick is to stay focused and do everything one step at a time. Do not worry about the circumstances, setbacks are temporary.”


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