By Gay Matambo
IRRIGATION schemes have emerged as a top priority to boost food security and eradicate poverty in the arid and semi-arid parts of the country such as Chiredzi.
In Chiredzi East, Tshovani Irrigation Scheme in Nyahanga area has become a source of hope guaranteeing food security in an area which would under normal circumstance produce very little.
“This irrigation scheme is assisting us a lot because so far ever since we started farming here, I have managed to take my children to school and even bought 15 cattle using the money I got from selling my produce,” said a famer based at the irrigation scheme.
Another said: “We grow sugar beans and last year I grew sugar beans under a contract with Seedco and I managed to get 1350 tonnes of sugar beans such that those sugar beans are the ones being sold in Farm and City shops currently so this irrigation scheme is transforming our lives a lot.”
“Normally we do a lot of contract farming, we have been engaged by Seedco and we have sugar beans seed for Seedco. We get good incomes there and last season I got 7500 tonnes of sugar beans and bought a tractor,” added another farmer.
The ongoing revitalisation of the 360-hectare scheme, which is under the Small-holder Irrigation Revitalisation Programme, is expected to draw more numbers.
Tshovani Irrigation Scheme Agritex Extension Officer Susan Ruvuyu said: “The revitalisation of the scheme commenced in October last year. The programme will boost productivity at the scheme as pumps at the scheme are being restored. Chiredzi is a dry region so we are expecting that we will be able to feed a number of communities in and out of Chiredzi district. So we want to thank the government for this programme.”
“As a department we are making linkages with these farmers, input suppliers and output suppliers. Currently for Tshovani irrigation scheme we managed to link them with AFC Bank and they were contracted 200 hectares,” Chiredzi District Agritex Officer Tongai Bodi noted.
Irrigation development has been identified as a key accelerator for uplifting livelihoods in rural communities besides boosting agricultural production and productivity.