Obert Chifamba Maincaland Bureau
ARDA Transau Irrigation Project has successfully repaid the $37 000 loan it received under the Command Wheat programme after it harvested 120 tonnes of the cereal from 40 hectares. ARDA has also paid both Zinwa and Zesa the money it owed them for the 2016-2017 farming season.
Manicaland provincial agriculture extension officer Mrs Philipa Rwambiwa said this at a provincial irrigation competition prize-giving ceremony held at ARDA Transau on Tuesday. ARDA Transau Irrigation Project won the first prize, followed by Chiduku Ngowe and Middle Sabi Stage 3A in second and third places, respectively.
“It is very encouraging to note that this irrigation project comprising 87 farmers has even made part payments for the irrigation equipment and infrastructure they inherited from the former owners – the Department of Irrigation and ARDA, respectively. I encourage all other projects and individual farmers to repay loans they got from the Command Agriculture programme or any other service provider because defaulting will only mean that service providers will not be able to help in future,” said Mrs Rwambiwa.
ARDA Transau Irrigation has three centre pivots, two of which have the capacity to irrigate 40ha of land each, while the third can irrigate 30ha. The project has so far opened up 110ha of land out of a total of 900ha that are supposed to be cleared and used for farming projects. Mrs Rwambiwa also said ARDA Transau had already started preparing 90ha of land for Command Maize and another 40ha for Command Soyabeans.
Her office, she said, would assign an agronomist to make weekly visits to the scheme so that the farmers can receive the correct advice on production requirements of both crops.
“These farmers have since proved beyond doubt that they have the potential to produce adequately to repay loans and remain with surplus enough to meet domestic requirements and even to sell to generate some profit. When they were moved from Chiadzwa a few years ago, they were not happy about the development, but it was a blessing in disguise for them. Now they have irrigation facilities, decent and modern houses, agricultural machinery and productive land.”
Mrs Rwambiwa said loan allocations to beneficiaries had since been increased.
“Back in Chiadzwa they did not have the right land for farming purposes, which always compromised their efforts to achieve food security for their families annually. This year their loan allocations have been increased and they will get 12 bags of fertiliser for every hectare they use, while the maize seed variety they will use has been certified and is capable of producing in excess of 15 tonnes per hectare with proper management,” she said.
She said Osborne Dam had enough water to meet the farmers’ needs.