ARDA to manage idle irrigation schemes

By Regis Mhako

The Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) has been given the mandate to take over management of some idle and run down irrigation schemes with government leaving no stone unturned in ensuring national food security.

The once vibrant 214 hectare Mamina irrigation scheme in Mhondoro Ngezi had its equipment auctioned to offset debts, while a pump house and power lines were vandalised.

“The scheme had power disconnected owing to bills.The scheme also had a high debt overhang owed to ZINWA. Some of its equipment was therefore auctioned while the pump house was vandalised.”

Mhondoro Ngezi legislator, Honourable Tavengwa Mkhuhlane and the Minister of State for Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Honourable Mary Mliswa blamed the poor state of affairs at the irrigation scheme on lack of ownership by those managing it.

“The scheme used to be productive. It saddens me to see that resources put into it are going to waste. We should do thorough introspection and be honest with ourselves. We are going to come up with long lasting solutions to ensure the schemes are productive,” Honourable Mary Mliswa said.

With several irrigation schemes in a sorry state, government has since made a bold decision that will see over 32 of them being taken over countrywide.

“Irrigation schemes governance is questionable. Other challenges include vandalism of infrastructure and legacy debts. We have now designed a model through a statutory instrument in which ARDA will be taking over management of 32 schemes. It is not taking over the scheme but will be assisting members until such a time they graduate our farmers into being business minded,” Dep Min of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Resettlement Cde Vangelis Haritatos said.

Mashonaland West is targeting 34 000 hectares under wheat this season with irrigation schemes set to play a key role.