5000ha for winter maize, wheat — Chadzamira Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Ezra Chadzamira yesterday said Government planned to put about 5 000 ha under winter maize and wheat across the province. 

George Maponga in MASVINGO

MASVINGO Province is expected to grow 5000 hectares of winter maize and wheat under irrigation to mitigate the effects of the El Nino-induced drought by leveraging on the province’s high dam density which can be harnessed to produce food under                                                                           irrigation.

Masvingo is home to many of Zimbabwe’s largest dams yet the province is grappling with the effects of drought.

Minister of State for Masvingo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Ezra Chadzamira yesterday said Government planned to put about 5 000 ha under winter maize and wheat across the province. 

The province has over the past decade led in the production of winter maize in a private-public partnership involving Government, Lowveld sugar producer Tongaat Huletts Zimbabwe and Masvingo Development Trust.

‘’We are reviving winter maize production in Masvingo this year to assuage the effects of the prevailing drought by exploiting abundant water bodies that we have to produce food under irrigation. We are targeting 5000ha of maize and wheat which we hope will boost our food stocks,” said Minister Chadzamira.

‘’Preparations are ongoing and we are going to make sure that most of the irrigable land is put under both wheat and maize and we hope the produce will add to the food assistance that our people will soon start getting from Government to make sure that no one starves”.

Masvingo Development Trust had always spearheaded winter maize production on irrigable but fallow Tongaat Huletts land in the Lowveld and Mwenezi with Government chipping in with inputs.

Produce under the project is delivered to GMB depots at Nandi in Chiredzi or Rutenga in Mwenezi.

Masvingo is home to Zimbabwe’s largest interior dam, Tugwi-Mukosi, which has the potential to irrigate over 40 000 ha mainly in the Lowveld, and the second largest interior dam, Lake Mutirikwi.

Besides these two big dams, the province also boasts Muzhwi and Bindamombe dams in Chivi, Bangala in Masvingo district, Ruti, Matezva and Munjanganja in Gutu, Manjirenji in Zaka, Siya Dam in Bikita and Manyuchi in Mwenezi. 

Some these water bodies are largely underutilised but the ongoing shift from over-reliance on rain-fed agriculture to irrigation is expected to increase their use.

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