By William Milasi
About 1000 farmers at Exhchange Irrigation Scheme in Silobela have heaved a sigh of relief after the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) has commenced the rehabilitation of the irrigation scheme. Recently government in partnership with IFAD toured the irrigation facility.
Silobela MP Mthokhozisa Manoki Mpofu who has since raised concern about ravaging droughts in his constituency said the rehabilitation works will go a long way in alleviating the farmers livelihoods.
“I will want to applaud the partners for the job well done in rehabilitating the exchange irrigation scheme and it is my hope that farmers will seize this great opportunity and work hard to reduce hunger in their households and entire constituency,” he said.
The rehabilitation of the entire irrigation scheme is set to improve it’s effectiveness and efficiency in supporting irrigation activities to improve livelihood of people in Silobela.
“The rehabilitation programme is funded by IFAD working in partnership with the Government of Zimbabwe. Three 250hp electric motors coupled with pumps have been installed. The long awaited soft starters are to be delivered to site for connection, by end of this week the pumps will be tested and commissioned. This will eventually enable farmers to start land preparation,” Manoki said.
IFAD in 2018 extended a $52 million loan to government towards the Small Holder Irrigation Scheme (SIRP) programme.
SIRP is meant to transform the lives of small holder farmers managing in the country’s four provinces namely Midlands, Manicaland, Matabeleland South and Masvingo.
Farmers in dry prone Silobela have been urged to target high value crops with readily available market locally and abroad such onions.
“This will place them in better position to foot ZESA bills which have been a challenge in past
“On 17July 2020, 29.8 ha will be cropped, followed by 78.2 ha also this year. The total hacterage for the scheme is 168. 8ha, therefore more land will be utilised this season and only a small portion will remain fallow. The major reason is that water available at dam is inadequate to irrigate exchange irrigation and ARDA fair acres concurrently because the two are drawing water from the same dam,” Manoki said.
Government is currently crafting a piece of legislation which will enforce construction of contour ridges ( amakandiwa) in arable lands to conserve soil and minimise dam siltation which has reduce dam capacities throughout the country.
Furthermore, government is also working on the legislation which will make it mandatory for farmers in irrigation schemes to adhere to irrigation by-laws any defiance, the irrigation committee will be empowered to remove the farmer from the facilities.