Irrigation scheme beacon of hope for the people of Umzingwane

Irrigation scheme beacon of hope for the people of Umzingwane

By Providence Maraneli

Portburry Irrigation Scheme in Umzingwane is the latest to benefit through collaboration between farmers and the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA), as government’s drive to resuscitate communal irrigation schemes continues.

From being just a communal scheme where individuals owned small portions for speculative purposes without any meaningful production to a potential agro-business venture, Portburry Irrigation Scheme was not so long ago in a sorry state because of lack of resources and farming implements.

However, a partnership between farmers and ARDA has awakened the sleeping giant which is a week away from harvesting the first meaningful wheat crop.

A beneficiary told ZBC News, “We have changed from subsistence to commercial thinking and this we give to ARDA which came in and explained to us the government’s Vision 2030 and we got assistance to get a loan from AFC. ARDA also employed a business manager here and this has transformed our scheme which was just a subsistence scheme.”

“We were just growing crops for nothing, but we have been transformed and if you look at our wheat, it’s almost ready for harvest,” another farmer said.

Added another, “We are heading in the right direction and we are expecting a bumper harvest.”

“I am expecting approximately seven tonnes per hectare and we are also expecting to start harvesting in less than two weeks and we will soon start paying US$1 000 dividend to each household in the scheme,” said Florence Moyo, the irrigation scheme’s manager.

For a scheme that had gone for 20 years with poor yields, the success story confirms that the government’s Accelerated Rural Development and Industrialisation Drive has the potential to turnaround the fortunes of rural communities.

“The production at this scheme dovetails with government’s vision of rural industrialisation and devolution, where the increase in production at these schemes that were previously not working will also contribute to the provincial GDP and this will then propel the country towards an upper middle income society,” said Tinotenda Mhiko, ARDA chief executive officer.

The 35-hectare plot is among many irrigation schemes in Matabeleland province that are being managed by the Agricultural and ARDA.