Heads roll at ARDA as government charts new path for irrigation

By Mhlomuli Ncube

Government has taken decisive action at ARDA Matabeleland North irrigation schemes where management has been fired for poor workmanship amid revelations that some of the planted crop is now a write-off.

It was a tour that raised emotions and necessitated radical decisions on the spot.

Led by the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement, Dr Anxious Masuka, the assessment tour revealed that the crop planted at Bubi-Lupane Irrigation scheme is a complete disaster while the Bulawayo Kraal in Binga is not being well managed.

“Today we are on a tour of ARDA estates in Matabeleland North, touring the two irrigation schemes Bubi-Lupane and Byo Kraal. At both irrigation schemes we learnt about how not to farm and clearly the two schemes at this stage are a write-off.

“We are disappointed that resources went down. However, we are pleased that the new ARDA board Chairman and CEO are with us to see why we have been talking about ARDA needing a transformation,” he said.

With the entire crop of sorghum and maize written off at Bubi-Lupane Irrigation scheme, the “how not to farm,” scenario saw management being fired on the spot.

A new commitment however has been made by the new ARDA board and management.

Mr Irvine Craig, who is ARDA Board Chairperson, said, “As you heard from our Minister, the projects under these irrigations schemes did not do well, so they have been written off. We have seen that we would rather prepare for winter.

“Firstly, we must ensure that we have knowledgeable personnel on the ground and when it comes to implementation we do not want a manager of CEO who works from the office.”

Time is however not lost as government now eyes to put 180 hectares under wheat with another 60 hectares of an already planted bean field.

“I am happy because the Minister is hands-on. We saw for ourselves in Lupane where we made a decision that we cannot continue to waste government’s resources,” said Matabeleland North Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Honourable Richard Moyo.

Mourning about the already wasted resources is a phase that has gone-by as the responsible ministry sets new production targets with a radical paradigm shift in the management of Irrigation Schemes.