The Minister of State in Vice President Chiwenga’s office, Dr. Evelyn Ndlovu, has toured Midlands irrigation schemes to explore productivity and viability challenges of all irrigation schemes to ensure food security and nutrition.
Vice President Chiwenga’s office, is in charge of the economic ministries and the food security and nutrition portfolio.
Dr. Ndlovu toured the Ruchanyu irrigation scheme in Shurugwi; Igogo irrigation scheme in Kwekwe, and Bannock Burn irrigation scheme in Zvishavane, in the Midlands.
Dr. Ndlovu said that her team is touring all irrigation schemes in the country to explore how Zimbabwe can grow enough food in the country’s irrigable places to enhance our food security and avoid importing food from other countries like Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, Malawi among others.
Dr. Ndlovu said that some of the irrigation schemes are doing well despite a number of productivity and viability challenges like power outages high cost of inputs and the impacts of climate change that have brought a number of challenges that are making it very difficult for the farmers to produce enough for the country.
The Ruchanyu irrigation scheme was established in 2011 with funding from the Government of and the European Union. The farmers told Dr. Ndlovu that they had stopped production due to the main irrigation pump that broke down in 2013. The two tractors at the irrigation scheme also broke down and it are still to be repaired. The first one was involved in an accident while the other one just broke down.
The pump house at Ruchanyu irrigation scheme is being rehabilitated with a new pump base being installed and expected. The underground pipe joints and fittings have been leaking and are in need of replacement while the sprinklers hydrants the aluminium pipes also need replacement
Dr. Ndlovu encouraged the farmers to form a cooperative so that they are better able to manage the irrigation scheme as a group and be able to repay power and bank loans.
She also encouraged the farmers to mobilise their relatives and children in the diaspora to invest in the irrigation scheme and projects at home so that they help the installation of facilities like abattoirs, hatcheries and irrigation equipment to and contribute meaningfully to the development of the country.
The chairman of the Ruchanyu irrigation scheme Mr Mukando said that the scheme incurred a debt of $12 797 for electricity.
The scheme further lost 6 kilometres of power cables to thieves further paralysing efforts to revive the irrigation scheme.
The initial design irrigation scheme was 100ha but section A with only 27ha and section B with 17ha were opened for the farmers to produce horticulture crops like butternuts cucumbers cabbages carrots and peas to cereals and grains and pulses.
Mr Mukando said that Ruchanyu irrigation scheme is fighting declining water yield from the source dam catchment area due to chrome and gold in the area.
The growing mining-agriculture conflict has affected the Ruchanyu irrigation scheme significantly as some mining activities near the irrigation scheme are chocking the water source.
The AGRITE district extension officer Ms. M M M said that the irrigation scheme has been losing a lot of potential sales of horticulture products that had guaranteed buyers because of the ever-rising cost of inputs.
The individual farmers own between 0.4 and 0.5ha and this has affected synchronisation of planting and integrated management of pests said Ms. M
The perimeter fence at the irrigation scheme was also destroyed and needs serious repair for work to resume.
Francis Bingandadi Managing Editor AgriSeason