Irrigation will change face of Manicaland

31 May, 2024 - 00:05 0 Views
Irrigation will change face of Manicaland Romsley-Irrigation-Scheme-is-the-only-scheme-with-centre-pivots-in-the-province. - Pictures: Tinai Nyadzayo

The ManicaPost

 

Lovemore Kadzura
Post Correspondent

THE Second Republic’s massive investment in agriculture, particularly in irrigation development and mechanisation is yielding considerable transformation, especially in previously marginalised communities.

The investments, which runs into millions of United States of America dollars, have transformed drought prone regions of Manicaland into thriving productive business units.

Government has rolled out programmes to resuscitate defunct and dysfunctional irrigation schemes to breathe life back into these once productive units.

It has gone further to set up new state-of-the-art schemes, anchored on highly mechanised, modern and world class irrigation equipment and infrastructure that in the past was a preserve for moneyed large white commercial farms and estates.

Examples that quickly race to mind in Manicaland include Romsley Irrigation Scheme in Makoni South, Chibuwe and Musikavanhu irrigation schemes in Chipinge as well as Cashel Valley Irrigation Scheme in Chimanimani.

These irrigation hubs have transformed peasant farmers’ lives into commercial ones, and their thrust is producing to feed the nation, as opposed to their families only.

These areas are known to be hot and dry, but with Government’s intervention, they are being transformed into greenbelts that produce an assortment of horticultural and cereal foods all-year-round.

Smallholder farmers have been availed with life-changing opportunities to contribute significantly to the provincial Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while boasting their chances of gaining hefty returns from their investments.

These new irrigation schemes operate under strict supervision of a business manager seconded by the Agriculture and Rural Development Authority, and make sure that farmers grow one crop at the same time.

This week’s visit to Romsley Irrigation Scheme by the Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Advocate Misheck Mugadza was more than an eye opener.

The development on the ground is unprecedented, and the scheme is due for commissioning on June 30, 2024.

Minister Mugadza said Government’s priority to support farmers, especially smallholders, is meant to fight against poverty and hunger, especially in light of the El Nino-induced drought.

Minister Mugadza further stressed that agricultural is the anchor of the Zimbabwean economy, and Government will do its best to support the source of major raw materials used by manufacturers.

He said Government has allocated US$5 million for the rehabilitation of the abandoned scheme in a progressive move that seeks to improve food security, alleviate poverty and sustain development in Makoni South.

“We are pleased with the progress of Romsley Irrigation Scheme under the Agriculture V30 (Vision 2030) Accelerator Model. This area had been earmarked for irrigation for a longtime, but it was failing to materialise. The revamping of this area only became possible through the leadership of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s visionary leadership.

“President Mnangagwa has set up several irrigation schemes across the country.
We have four of these schemes in Manicaland, and most of them are nearing completion.

“This will be one big Village Business Unit where villagers are going to grow different crops, and there will be some processing plants to for value addition of the produce. This will create massive employment from the farm to the factory. Everybody here will be a businessperson.

“This project is now over 90 percent complete, and we expect maize to be the first crop to be planted here, with expectations that by August or September 2024, farmers will be harvesting. We want all irrigation schemes to be fully functional so that food crops are grown to shield people from the drought effects,” said Minister Mugadza.

He said Government is pro-development, which explains why it has taken on board Romsley Irrigation Scheme.

“This irrigation scheme was abandoned and vandalised soon after independence. However, President Mnangagwa’s thrust to leave no person or place behind has made it possible to have this massive development in this area. This has set the area on a development trajectory,” said Minister Mugadza.

 

A thriving maize crop at Romsley Irrigation Scheme is expected to be harvested between August and September

A thriving maize crop at Romsley Irrigation Scheme is expected to be harvested between August and September

Makoni District Development Coordinator, Mr Edwin Mashindi, said improving agricultural productivity through small-holder irrigation schemes is one of Government’s key strategies to improve the livelihoods of rural communities as the majority of people rely on agriculture.

He said rainfall in Makoni South is too erratic for dryland farming, hence the need for irrigation.

He said the scheme was abandoned in the early 80s and its revival will directly and indirectly benefit more than 3 000 people.

It will also cushion farmers against droughts and mid-season dry spells so that they intensify production throughout the year.

Mr Mashindi said the rehabilitation of the irrigation scheme will increase yields, stabilise output, enable crop diversification, increase income and create employment opportunities.

“It will have a multiplier effect on the beneficiary incomes and contribute towards food security and poverty alleviation.

“This is an old scheme whose canals were developed back then. It was drawing water from Mucheke River through a canal. We are talking of a very dry area with some of the best red and black soils. This is a game changer,” he said.

Engineer Rutendo Chikoshana, from the Department of Irrigation under the Smallholder Irrigation Revitalisation Programme (SIRP) said the project took two years to complete.

He said the facility has an 18km canal that draws water from Mucheke River to feed a massive 24 state-of-the-art centre pivots, straddling 400 hectares.

“This scheme sits on 384 hectares that are under centre pivot irrigation. This is the only scheme with centre pivots in the province. We are anticipating to have 387 beneficiaries at this scheme, and as we speak all the major works are expected to be completed by June 2024.

“Nationally, we have 60 irrigation projects developed under the SIRP programme, and in Manicaland some of the big projects are Romsley, Cashel Valley and Musikavanhu irrigation schemes.

“All these schemes are ranging from between 90 percent to 100 percent in terms of completion. Romsley Irrigation Scheme is the biggest project nationally as we have invested over US$4 million to date,” she said.

Chief Revai Mbaimbai Chiduku said they are grateful to Government for revamping the irrigation facility.

He said the massive investment has positively transformed his area.

“Romsley Estate was once occupied by one white man, and at independence, blacks moved in, but the irrigation infrastructure collapsed due to lack of maintenance and people were left stranded and starving. Government’s intervention decades after independence is most welcome.

“I would like to appreciate President Mnangagwa for remembering us.

“This kind of gesture should not be taken for granted. To have an irrigation scheme for small-scale farmers here in Nzvimbe that is propelled by centre pivots is no mean achievement.

“For some of the farmers here, it is actually their first time to see and operate centre pivots.

“Beneficiaries have welcomed the progress as they are also helping the contractors with manual work,” said Chief Chiduku.

 

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