Irrigation schemes to speed up rural development

By Courage Bushe

THE ongoing deployment of business development managers to community irrigation schemes across the country has received tremendous buy-in from plot holders in Zvishavane.

Persistent drought and subsequent poor harvests have brought to the fore the need to move away from rain-fed agriculture to irrigation.

The deployment of business development managers to community irrigation schemes has therefore become a major pillar in this endeavour to guarantee food security in the face of drought and erratic rains.

“The arrangement makes a lot of business sense as it seeks to give a business approach to farming activities in irrigation schemes which has been missing with farmers mainly focusing on producing just enough to satiate their domestic requirements,” said a beneficiary.

“We want to thank government for such an initiative and we are ready for it because this will feed into the National Development Strategy 1 as well as devolution agenda,” said a farmer

Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) Board Chairperson, Mr Ivan Craig says the move will improve viability and professionalism.

“We are going to deploy some business development managers in each scheme so that they help on the planning, farming and market linkages. All the irrigation schemes are going to grow one crop at a time not that a person will grow up a crop he or she feels like growing because we end up having maybe 10 or so different crops on the scheme, so selling them will be very difficult,” he said.

290 out of the 450 business managers have so far been deployed countrywide with the programme set to be completed before the end of the year while defunct irrigation schemes will be resuscitated.