Tawanda Mangoma in Chiredzi
Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development (Crop Production) Davis Marapira has challenged sugar cane farmers in Chiredzi to shift from flood irrigation and adopt modern irrigation technologies which save water.
He was speaking on Monday during a tour of 600 hectares of sugar cane at Nandi Eastate where the Agriculture and Rural Development Authority has partnered Mangwa Quip, a private investor.
He said Masvingo province was continuously facing irrigation water shortages due to wasteful irrigation methods such as flood.
Deputy Minister Marapira said Government was now urging farmers in the sugar industry to adopt modern irrigating technologies.
“Farmers are continuously complaining about water shortages, especially in the sugar cane industry, but they don’t want to take necessary measures towards addressing this,” he said.
“As Government, we have centre pivots which we are distributing under the Brazilian Food for Africa Project and our main goal is to increase productivity while we cut operational costs.
“Centre pivots save water 10 times what you use during flooding. They will also minimise cases of leaching of important plant nutrients since you can control water to be applied.”
Deputy Minister Marapira said farmers in the Lowveld should take advantage of the high temperatures experienced in the region and adopt the use of solar power.
Mangwa Quip chairman, who is also Chiredzi East Member of Parliamant, Cde Denford Masiya, said they had successfully planted sugar cane on 150ha of the 450ha which are arable at the plot.
“We have already planted 150ha of sugar cane at a cost of $470 000,” he said. “We managed to change the irrigation systems from drip to furrow, while we rehabilitated the overnight storage dam which is good enough to store water for irrigating the plantation.”
Cde Masiya said they had the capacity to install modern irrigation technologies such as centre pivots but require ARDA to review their contract and afford them fifteen years.