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    Friday, 5 August 2016

    Govt threatens Tshovani Irrigation Scheme take over


    – Government has warned that it will soon be forced to repossess the 358-hectare Tshovani Irrigation Scheme in Chiredzi after a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on tour of the project established that land was severely underutilised.
    Tshovani Irrigation Scheme is in Chiredzi East and has  120 farmers each with three hectares of land under irrigation.
    The farmers were settled on a scheme that used to run under Arda.
    Speaking after the tour which was conducted by 10 MPs and Senators of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee of Lands, Agriculture Mechanisation and Irrigation,  the Director of Irrigation Development in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Dr Conrad Zawe said there was serious underutilisation of Tshovani Irrigation Scheme with production far below capacity.
    He said that as a result, Government has serious plans to take over the scheme in a bid to revamp production.
    The farmers are growing maize, beans, wheat, chilli, tomatoes and vegetables.
    It was noted during the tour that the farmers were for example getting three tonnes of maize per hectare instead of a minimum of 10 tonnes expected under irrigation. For beans the farmers are getting one tonne per hectare instead of between five and six tonnes. They are getting 1,5 tonnes of wheat per hectare instead of 15 tonnes per hectare and 15 tonnes of tomatoes instead of 60 tonnes per hectare.  
    Dr Zawe said Government was set to repossess all underutilised irrigation schemes and give people who are willing to utilise the schemes as a measure to increase the country`s food production.
    He bemoaned the farmers for always crying out to Government to assist with payment of electricity and water bills to Zesa and Zinwa respectively.
    "This irrigation scheme is one of the few which are unique in that each farmer has three hectares under irrigation, which is a lot. Solutions lie within this scheme`s farmers and there is no doubt that this land is being underutilised.
    "You cry that Zinwa is not providing water but you owe the parastatal thousands of dollars in debt. Farmers should decide if they want to use all the hectarage which they have or give what they cannot use to other farmers. As government we have taken over the scheme and plans to revamp it are at an advanced stage and that will happen to many other irrigation schemes which are facing underutilisation," said Dr Zawe.
    The MP for Chiredzi South and Chairperson of the Committee Rtd Gen Kallisto Gwanetsa said the country should work to reclaim the status of the bread basket of Africa and that can be achieved through resuscitation of irrigation schemes and the visit was to see how the Tshovani Irrigation Scheme can be assisted.
    "The glory days of being the bread basket of the region can only be achieved through resuscitation of irrigation schemes.
    "Harnessing and harvesting water for future use is the only panacea for development. These farmers should reduce their hectorage so that they remain with sizeable land in-order to increase production. The aim of the visit was to see how best government can assist in revitalising irrigation schemes in the country" said Gwanetsa.
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