Irrigation schemes key in adapting to climate change

By Gay Matambo

RUPIKE irrigation scheme in Masvingo South constituency which won the 2021 National Irrigation Competition, has continued to thrive as evidenced by the development it has brought to communities around the scheme.

The 200-hectare Rupike Irrigation Scheme has not only improved the lives of farmers, but has helped them to adapt to climate variability and climate change as they can now grow crops all year round.

“We started farming in the year 1986 and from that time to date, we have never gone hungry even in years of drought. Each farmer has a 0.5ha plot where we agree on what to grow,” said one beneficiary.

“Through this scheme I have managed to take my children to school. All of them have graduated, they have degrees. We are making money here,” said a farmer.

“I have managed to buy a house and several residential stands from money that I get from selling the produce we grow. I am now an employer as we speak,” said a community member.

Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Dr Anxious Masuka, who officiated at the 2021 National Irrigation Competition Prize giving ceremony at Rupike Irrigation Scheme this Friday, said 450 irrigation schemes across the country are being transformed to ensure that they run as viable businesses.

“ARDA is now the designated business manager for these schemes. I am informed that 287 of the 450 irrigation schemes have been transitioned to ARDA management and that many of these have become viable businesses again,” said Dr Masuka.

Masvingo Minister of State for Provincial affairs and Devolution, Honourable Ezra Chadzamira said the province is taking irrigated agriculture as one of its top priorities.

“To date, we are proud to say that as a province we have 70 communal irrigation schemes, in total close to 3800ha. We are not only concentrating on the improvement in operationalisation of existing schemes, but we have various programmes lined in order to boost our irrigated hectarage,” he said.

The irrigation schemes competition were introduced to motivate farmers and capacitate them to improve crop production.