Tawanda Mangoma in Chiredzi
Government has identified more than 5 000 hectares of communal land in Chiredzi district to establish more irrigation schemes through Private Public Partnerships.
The land, which is strategically positioned along perennial rivers Runde and Save, would be key in the alleviation of hunger in the district which faces perennially unrealible rainfall.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Irrigation Development Responsible for Crops Cde Davis Marapira, who was on a two-day tour of Chiredzi, said yesterday that Government was looking for partners willing to undertake a Built, Operate and Transfer agreement with communities.
He said Government wanted beneficiaries of irrigation schemes to record maximum yields on all crops.
“The reason why our irrigation schemes continue to give us headaches is because we are not yielding the maximum from the crops we grow,” he said.
“I have been checking statistics at Tshovani and Chilonga Irrigation Schemes and the average yield per hectare of maize is two tonnes, which is not good.
“As farmers, we will continue to be poor if we don’t improve our production capacity. We are very much worried as Government as to why a farmer in the USA is producing 35 tonnes of maize per hectare, while those in Zimbabwe are producing only two tonnes on the same size.”
Deputy Minister Marapira said Government will take over operations at schemes with poorly performing farmers and find partners who would work with the community while sharing profits.
“We cannot tolerate a situation in which the country imports food every year while we have farmers,” he said. “Water from Runde and Save rivers is flowing freely to the Indian Ocean and you are not even moved by this. Chief Tshovani has identified 1 000 hectares which he wants Government to find partners and establish irrigation schemes.
“In Chiredzi South constituency at Makhosiya area there are 4 000 hectares which have good soils which have been proposed as the best area to set up another large scale maize and wheat producing irrigations.”
Deputy Minister Marapira said Government, through the Brazilian Food for Africa Programme, had acquired modern irrigating technology and tractors which should be utilised in achieving the tenets of the economic 10-Point Plan enunciated by President Robert Mugabe recently.
Villagers at Chilonga complained to Deputy Minister Marapira that water officials continued to delay repairing their irrigation scheme, which has been closed for more than nine years.