Tendai Mugabe Masvingo Bureau
Revival of irrigation schemes across the country is one of Government’s priorities to ensure food sufficiency, Minister of State in the Office of Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, Dr Evelyn Ndlovu, has said.
Dr Ndlovu said the country should not continue to import grain when it could utilise its land and dams.
She made the remarks when she toured Mushandike Irrigation Scheme here last week.
Dr Ndlovu toured Mushandike Dam and Fuwe Panganai Irrigation Project in Zaka.
“As Government, we are prioritising resuscitation of irrigation schemes in the country to ensure that we have enough food in the country,” she said.
“If you visit Arda Estates now, they are now running to full capacity doing various projects and we want to do the same with all the irrigation schemes in the country. We cannot afford to continue importing grain when we can produce on our own.”
With regards to the Mushandike Irrigation Scheme, Dr Ndlovu was told that the project was facing serious water shortages and vandalism of infrastructure.
She was also told that the market for farm produce at Mushandike was also a challenge.
In response, Dr Ndlovu said: “As to the shortage of water, as Government, we are going to work to see how you can draw water for your projects from other nearby dams. I do not think the market, especially for tomatoes, should be a challenge because they can be supplied to processing companies.
“You can be trained to do the processing here where you can start to do value addition and produce tomato sauce. We have the machinery for that training in Harare and youths from here can enrol for that training.”
Chairman of Mushandike Irrigation Scheme Mr Denhere Busvumani said there were at least 505 farmers benefitting from the project.
He said they produced various crops like maize, wheat and sugar beans.
“We are also beneficiaries of Command Agriculture and we are happy that from this programme we access all inputs and chemicals,” said Mr Busvumani. “The carrying capacity of our dam is now overwhelmed by the number of people and we need assistance to have enough water.”
At Fuwe Panganai, Dr Ndlovu was briefed that farmers were producing chillies for export to South Africa.
The farmers expressed concern over delays in the distribution of inputs under Command Agriculture.
Dr Ndlovu was also told that the state of the roads in the area was bad, thereby making it difficult for them to access markets.
She assured the farmers that Government would do everything in its capacity to address these challenges.